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AJ & Curtis join Anthony Nolan to encourage students to join the Anthony Nolan Stem Cell Register

Words by Harrison Read

On the next stop of their charity tour, AJ & Curtis Pritchard recently joined charity Anthony Nolan at University College London (UCL) to raise awareness about the critical need for more stem cell donors aged between 16 and 30. 

Stem cell donation can offer a second chance at life to a person anywhere in the world who has blood cancer or a blood disorder. 

The brothers met with one of Anthony Nolan’s University Marrow groups (Anthony Nolan’s student network), where they learnt from student volunteers about the charity’s 50-year history of leading the way in stem cell donation for transplants and cell and gene therapies.

Research conducted by the charity has shown that younger donors are more likely to be selected for donation, making university and college settings ideal spaces for Marrow groups to advocate for this cause. 

Now celebrating their 50th year, Anthony Nolan and their Bone Marrow Register was established in 1974: the first of its kind. Today, it’s helped 22,000 people receive a lifesaving transplant. 

Before the Anthony Nolan charity, finding an unrelated stem cell donor was virtually impossible.

During their visit, AJ & Curtis met with Rowena Bentley, Head of Programme and Community Recruitment at Anthony Nolan, who provided insights into the charity's impact and the vital role of Marrow student groups in recruiting potential donors.

One of the highlights of the visit was being joined by Julia and Nathan, whose incredible journey exemplifies the miracle of stem cell donation. Julia, diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia at 19, received a life-saving transplant from Nathan, a research scientist. Their first meeting in 2022 revealed their unique connection, as they discovered Nathan worked just 100 feet away from the hospital where Julia received his stem cells.

Together, AJ & Curtis, along with Nathan and Julia, chatted through their story, including the emotional rollercoaster of Julia's diagnosis, the unique bond forged between donor and recipient, and the importance of advocating for stem cell donation. 

Their connection really emphasised the life-saving impact of being a registered donor.

Throughout the day, AJ & Curtis shared vital information with students - while stopping for the occasional selfie - encouraging them to consider signing up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell donor register.

AJ & Curtis are now #LifeSaverReady themselves, having signed up to the stem cell register during filming by completing a simple swab around the mouth. 

The Smiley Charity Film Awards Ambassadors will continue trying to inspire more young people to become potential lifesavers, ultimately benefiting the charity's mission of expanding and diversifying the stem cell register.

The dynamic duo, known for their passion for making a positive impact, were offered an exciting challenge by Anthony Nolan: a friendly competition to see who can rally the most people to sign up for the Anthony Nolan Stem Cell Register. 

If you sign up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register and one day come up as a genetic match, you could be that amazing stranger. Without you, there is no cure.

Use AJ’s link to sign up to the stem cell register

Use Curtis’ link to sign up to the stem cell register

And if you want, you can use our link to sign up to the stem cell register ;)

If you’re male and/or from a minority ethnic background, then you can make an even bigger difference to patients as these donors are needed most.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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