SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has supported Anthony Nolan’s ‘Save a Life At 16’ campaign which aims to find teenagers in Derry and throughout the North who will help the charity save the lives of people with blood cancers such as leukaemia.
The campaign sees the charity attempt to persuade HMRC to include details of the Anthony Nolan bone marrow donor register when it writes to young people with their National Insurance numbers in advance of their 16th birthdays.
Anthony Nolan has pledged to cover all associated costs and hopes this would encourage more 16-year-olds to join the register.
The charity also hopes that if young people are informed about the chance to save the lives of people with cancers such as leukaemia, many more will step forward to register, with an increase of up to 25 per cent in the number of young donors predicted.
Mr Durkan, who has written to HMRC to ask them to support the plan, said:“I am delighted to support the Anthony Nolan ‘Save A Life At 16’ campaign.
“I have written to HMRC urging them to consider implementing this proposal to include information about joining the bone marrow register in the correspondence sent to young people containing their National Insurance information.
“This charity urgently needs to recruit more young people, as they are far more likely to be chosen by doctors to donate. Currently, however, just four per cent of registered donors are under the age of 20.
“Anthony Nolan also needs to diversify their register to ensure that everybody who needs a transplant has the best possible chance of finding a match.”
Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “Every year in the UK around 2,000 people with blood cancer need stem cell donations from a stranger. We believe young people are passionate about helping others, but they also need to be well informed about the chances open to them.
“By agreeing to our proposal, the government can make it easier for people as young as 16 to become lifesavers.”
For further information or to sign up online, please visit www.anthonynolan.org