Loughborough smashes national record for stem cell donor recruitment

Loughborough University, Loughborough Students’ Union, Anthony Nolan and the Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign (RBLC) have together broken the national record for the number of stem cell donors recruited in one day at a university, as a result of a major campus-wide drive.

Spit Happens Rik and Steve

A total of 2,056 eligible donors joined the Anthony Nolan register during the ‘Spit Happens’ event on Wednesday 15 March 2017, with the previous record standing at 1,404.

Throughout the day multiple registration sites were set up across the Loughborough campus where individuals aged 16-30 could complete a short form, provide a saliva sample and join the register.

Speaking about the achievement, Professor Steve Rothberg, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at Loughborough University and himself a recipient of a life-saving stem cell transplant, said: “I am incredibly proud of Loughborough staff and students, as well as our partners, for adding so many names to the register. A huge amount of teamwork and dedication has gone into this campaign and there’s no doubt that lives will be saved as a result.”

Rik Basra added: “Spit Happens was a truly remarkable collaborative drive to boost lifesavers on the Anthony Nolan register. It’s particularly poignant that a university with a worldwide reputation for health and fitness is doing so much to help those at the other end of the health spectrum.

“The enthusiasm and commitment of both students and staff have been absolutely amazing, and I’m certain news of a lifesaving match is just a matter of time. A big thanks to Loughborough University, Loughborough Students’ Union and Loughborough Marrow who helped make the day such a success.”

Since 1974, the Anthony Nolan register has made 15,000 stem cell transplants possible but it’s still the case that only 60% of individuals in need of a transplant find the best possible life-saving match they need; this figure drops dramatically to just 20% if you are from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background.

Ann O'Leary, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, commented: “We are overwhelmed by the amazing work of Loughborough University staff and students, Loughborough Students’ Union, the Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign and Loughborough Marrow.

“Anthony Nolan is so proud to have worked alongside these inspirational partners on the Spit Happens event. The donors who were recruited today will offer hope and a chance of life to patients in need of a transplant for decades to come – a truly lifesaving legacy. We’re grateful to all those who supported this campaign and those who joined the Anthony Nolan register today.”

Further information on joining the register is available on the Anthony Nolan website and the University’s dedicated event page.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 17/39

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world to study sports-related subjects in the 2017 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2017 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

About Anthony Nolan

Anthony Nolan saves the lives of people with blood cancer. The charity uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer and blood disorder patients in need of stem cell transplants. It also carries out pioneering research to increase stem cell transplant success, and supports patients through their transplant journeys. Every day Anthony Nolan gives three people a second chance at life. Find out more at www.anthonynolan.org

Note to sub editors

Please note that Anthony Nolan changed its name in 2001 and is no longer known as Anthony Nolan Trust.

What is a stem cell transplant?

If a patient has a condition that affects their bone marrow or blood, then a stem cell transplant may be their best chance of survival. Doctors will give new, healthy stem cells to the patient via their bloodstream, where they begin to grow and create healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Key statistics

•           About 2,000 people in the UK need a stem cell transplant from a stranger every year

•           90% of donors donate through PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell collection). This is a simple, outpatient procedure similar to giving blood

•           We need more young men to sign up, as they are most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 15% of the register

•           We need more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to sign up. Only 60% of transplant recipients receive the best match. This drops dramatically to around 20% (one in five of transplant recipients) if you're from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background.

•           It costs £60 to add each new donor to the register so we always need financial support

•           To join the Anthony Nolan register, you must be 16-30 and healthy. Anthony Nolan’s world-leading Research Institute has shown younger donors offer better survival rates for patients.


High quality photo High quality video


Kristy Diaz

Communications Officer

Telephone: 01509 222224

PR team

Telephone: 01509 222224