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Students' unique chance to save lives

student practicing biomedical immunology

If you have blood cancer and you’re from an ethnic minority group, the chances of you receiving a potentially life-saving transplant are about 40% lower than if you are Caucasian. But UEL’s amazing diversity means its students are in an almost unique position to lower those odds. Now a UEL volunteer group is hoping to redress the balance with a bone marrow donor recruitment drive.

Marrow is a UK-wide group based in more than 45 universities which works with the Anthony Nolan Trust to recruit more young donors onto their bone marrow register. UEL’s Marrow Group is hosting an event to recruit more Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME) students, because this part of the population is vastly under-represented.

The group was started last year. Its president, Peter Carr explained why:

“The main reason that we decided to set up a Marrow branch at UEL is due to the rich ethnic diversity of our students -- around 120 different nationalities.  I am very excited about this event since we are trying to encourage as many people between the ages of 16 to 30 as possible to sign up. Marrow places a great deal of importance to this event due to the low number of ethnic minority peoples currently on the register.”

One London family currently searching for a match are the Mehta's. Their 10-year-old son, Dushyant, desperately needs a transplant. But Dushyant is of Indian origin which makes it more difficult to find him a suitable donor. So his family are appealing for students to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register.

His mother, Kalyani said:

“We desperately need a donor for Dushyant and we now know there is not currently anyone on any of the world’s registers who is a match for him. This is due to the lack of donors from similar backgrounds. We are calling on all students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds to sign up, not just for Dushyant, but for everyone in need of a lifesaving donor.”

At the UEL event, those who wish to sign up simply have to fill out a short form and spit in a tube. The whole process takes about 10 to 15 minutes, and no blood will be taken. They will then receive their donor ID card through the post. The chances that donors will be a match for someone varies by age and gender, but is usually 1 in 1000. 

UEL Marrow will also continue their fundraising. It costs £100 to register each person through identification of their tissue type.  The group has already raised more than £420 for Anthony Nolan during UEL’s charity week, mainly through a cake sale.

The BME student donor drive is on 26 February at UEL’s Stratford Campus Atrium from 10am to 4pm.  If you’d like more information about Anthony Nolan Trust or UEL Marrow contact them on

Notes to Editors

The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.