Saving Lives: Q&A with Anthony Nolan

We sat down with Henry from the charity Anthony Nolan, to find out how they help people with blood cancer – and the crucial way Cornerstone members could help.

What do Anthony Nolan do?

As a charity, we make lifesaving connections between people with blood cancer, and incredible strangers who are ready to donate their stem cells. For someone who has been diagnosed with blood cancer, these amazing donations are often their best chance of survival. 

As well as making these lifesaving connections, Anthony Nolan provide patients and their families with support during their treatment. On top of this, we conduct ground-breaking research into stem cell transplants, and raise vital funds to support this lifesaving work.

How did the charity start?

We were actually the world’s first stem cell donor register, and were founded in 1974 by a mother, Shirley, who was in desperate need of a stem cell donor for her son – Anthony Nolan. Tragically, Anthony never found his match, and passed away at just eight years old.

His legacy lives on today though, with over 750,000 people now on the Anthony Nolan register in the UK. To date, we’ve given a second chance of life to over 16,000 people.

How can Cornerstone members help?

If you’re aged 16-30 and in good health, you’re able to join the Anthony Nolan stem cell register, and could potentially help save someone’s life. We only recruit 16-30-year-olds because our research shows that these donors provide the best outcomes for people with blood cancer.

To apply, just head to the link below and complete the application form – we’ll then send you a swab pack in the post. Simply post it back to us, and we’ll then add you to the register – so that you’re ready and waiting to help save a life.

If you’re 31+, you can still give patients the best possible chance by donating to the charity. It costs us £40 to recruit each potential donor, so your financial support is equally as important in our quest: for a day when no-one dies when they could have been saved by a stem cell transplant.

What happens if I’m a match for a patient?

Each time a patient needs a transplant, we search our register for a suitable donor. If you come up as a match, we’ll be in touch to confirm a few things. Then, if you’re deemed to be the best match for the patient, you’ll be asked to head to one of our specialist centres to donate your stem cells. In 90% of donations, people simply receive a few injections and then donate via their bloodstream (like Doug, pictured).

Only 10% of our donors donate via their bone marrow. Despite the myth, donating bone marrow is done under general anaesthetic, and most people compare it to that slightly tired feeling after a tough session at the gym!


    • Every 14 minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer

    • Over 2,000 people in the UK are in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant every year.

    • 70% of blood cancer patients rely on a stranger to save their lives

    • Research shows that donors under 30 are linked with the best survival rates

    • Young men make up only 16% of the Anthony Nolan register, despite providing 55% of all donations.


Take the first step towards saving a life:


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