Cancer survivor’s bid to make Leicester a ‘lifesaving city’

Posted by er134 at Sep 18, 2014 11:55 AM |
University of Leicester's Marrow Society involved in record-breaking campaign

Issued by De Montfort University Press Office on 18 September 2014

The entire community of Leicester is being urged to get behind a record-breaking campaign to sign up 1,000 young people to the Anthony Nolan register in just one day.

On October 1, eight local landmarks will host stations where people can sign-up and save a life.

Some of Leicester's best-known faces will join forces with Leicestershire's three universities to encourage local 16-30 year-olds to give a saliva sample and join the register in the hope of saving strangers fighting blood cancer.

The ambitious plan to target 1,000 young people in one day is the latest initiative by Leicestershire police officer and Leukaemia survivor, Rik Basra, and De Montfort University's Square Mile Programme.

Rik's life was saved after he received a bone marrow transplant from an anonymous donor through Anthony Nolan in 2011.

Rik and his family have campaigned tirelessly ever since to recruit more donors to the register and went on to set up the The Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign, which works closely with De Montfort University students. University of Leicester's Marrow Society - a group that supports Anthony Nolan - and Loughborough University students are also joining forces for this one off event.

Rik, said: "We're very excited to be signing up potential lifesavers at eight different locations in a single day. It’s going to be a fun day with lots going on and plenty of entertainment, but most importantly, we want people take a few minutes out of their day to register with Anthony Nolan. Every single person we sign up has the potential to save a life, I know only too well because someone did it for me!"

Dominic Shellard, Vice Chancellor of De Montfort University said: "DMU is not afraid of a challenge and we're determined to help set a new record of recruiting donors at this superb event. It is particularly pleasing to see all three universities working together on this event and I hope the people of Leicester will join our students and become part of the national register on October 1st. It's a quick and simple to do that could potentially save someone's life."

Some of Leicester's best-known sports stars are getting involved to support the event. Ex-Leicester, Liverpool and England striker Emile Heskey will be at the event.

Heskey, who was born in Leicester, said: "When I was asked by Rik to help out, I just couldn’t say no. It’s a pleasure to helpthe team recruit more lifesavers, what’s more important than that? It’s so easy to sign up, everyone should be doing it."

Leicestershire and England cricket legend Paul Nixon said: "It’s such a simple thing to sign up to the register, all you have to do is fill out a form, spit in a tube and the team at Anthony Nolan does the rest. I hope Leicester gets behind Rik and his team and signs up big numbers!”

Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential bone marrow donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a lifesaving transplant.

Ann O’Leary, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, says, ‘We urgently need more young people to come forward and save a life by donating their stem cells. The Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign and DMU Square Mile have already achieved great things to boost the numbers of young people in Leicester signing up as lifesaving donors. The team’s latest plans for eight events in one day are their boldest and most ambitious yet, and we’re really excited to work with them to make this exciting initiative a huge success.’

Rory Palmer, Deputy Mayor for Leicester, said:  "Dedicated volunteers like Rik and De Montfort University Square Mile students are invaluable to this city and to charities like Anthony Nolan. We need to get more young people on register to make Leicester a lifesaving city!"

If you are aged 16-30 and in good health you can sign up at the following locations on 1st October: De Montfort University - Campus Centre, Leicester Train station, Gallowtree Gate, Clock Tower, Humberstone Gate, Highcross Shopping Centre, Jubilee Square& Loughborough University.



For more information about Anthony Nolan, contact the communications team at or call 0303 303 0303.


Notes to editors

Key messages

  • Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential bone marrow donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant.
  • We need more young men aged 16-30 to sign up, as they are most likely to be chosen to donate but make up just 12% of the register.
  • It costs around £100 to recruit each new potential donor to the bone marrow register.


Key statistics

  • Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer
  • Around 1,800 people in the UK need a bone marrow (or stem cell) transplant each year.  This is usually their last chance of survival
  • 63% of UK patients will not find a matching donor from within their families; instead they turn to us to find them an unrelated donor
  • We can only find a suitable donor for around half the people who need a lifesaving bone marrow transplant
  • White Northern Europeans have a 90% chance of finding a suitable bone marrow donor. This falls to just 40% for people from black, Asian, and ethnic minority backgrounds
  • 90% of donations take place via PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell collection).  This is an outpatient appointment and is similar to donating blood
  • To join the register, you must be aged between 16 and 30, weigh more than 7st 12lbs (50kgs) and be in general good health. For more information about our work or to sign up online, please visit





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