Liverpool FC teamed up with the Anthony Nolan cancer charity to get people to sign up to the national bone marrow donor register.
The collaboration saw a special recruitment event at Anfield this week – run by Anthony Nolan and supported by Liverpool FC Foundation – inviting potential donors to be tested.
Goalkeeper Brad Jones was on hand to offer his support with partner Dani Lawrence, who is an ambassador for Anthony Nolan. The charity became close to the couple’s hearts following the loss of their son Luca who died aged five of leukaemia in 2011.
Speaking to JMU Journalism, Brad said: “It’s not until you’ve seen it first hand, maybe, that you realise how important and also how difficult it is, to find a donor. For us we saw it, we lived it. We were fortunate when Luca needed his that we found one, unfortunately it didn’t work, but it probably gave us a year longer with him, which we wouldn’t have otherwise had.
“There are 37,000 people who are in need of a transplant who haven’t found a match yet, that means that there’s nobody on any register in the world that is a match, which is a scary statistic, but we’ve had other events to get people on the donor register for Anthony Nolan, and from those events I think there’s been two or three people out of maybe 1200 who have gone on to donate, which is brilliant, but it just shows you how few will ever be a match.”
Brad stressed the importance of changing the public’s preconceptions of becoming a donor. He added: “There are a lot of myths on how painful it is to donate; we’re trying to spread the word and educate people about how easy it is. Really, for the amount of time you spend becoming a donor, it’s nothing in comparison to the amount of time that you give someone else at life.
“You can either turn up at one of these events or register online, they’ll send you out a spit-kit which is basically a tube and a form, you fill in the form, spit in the tube and you’re done. It can’t be any easier.”
Jo Buckton, a regional mentor for the Anthony Nolan education programme Register and Be a Lifesaver, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2007 but narrowly avoided the need for a stem cell transplant having recovered through therapy and blood transfusions, told JMU Journalism: “For us, we want to recruit young men, particularly aged 16-30, so to have Liverpool Football Club backing us on this; it plays right into what we need. This is the first event we’ve done like this, but we’ve got a similar event at Everton on the 8th April, so hopefully it will start a trend.
“People who join the register will stay on until they’re 60, but unfortunately those people who join the register will eventually reach the age of 60 and come off it, so we’ve got this constant challenge to keep recruiting people. It’s just as important as ever.”
Anyone interested in joining the national bone marrow register, but missed the Anfield event, can sign up at the Anthony Nolan website.