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Stem Cells: Donors

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 9584, tabled on 29 January 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to (a) raise awareness of the need for stem cell donations from the BAME communities and (b) encourage more people to join the stem cell donor register; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

5 February 2020

Since 2011 the Department has provided over £26.8 million in financial support to NHS Blood and Transplant and Anthony Nolan to enable the establishment of a unified United Kingdom Stem Cell Registry and improve access to and outcomes of stem cell donation. This includes improving equity of access to unrelated donor stem cell transplantation for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) patients through targeted recruitment to the UK Stem Cell Registry.

Current funding includes very specific stipulations about the numbers of newly registered bone marrow donors, and the proportion of umbilical cords stored in the UK Cord Blood Bank that must be from BAME backgrounds (35-40%). There are now 1.6 million donors on the UK’s aligned stem cell registry and the proportion of BAME donors in the UK registry has gone up from 11% to 14% between 2014 and 2019. In 2018, 22% of newly registered potential donors were from BAME backgrounds.