'Luton Swab Week' encourages students to save lives by joining stem cell donor list

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“It’s so quick and easy to sign up”

College and University students in Luton have been encouraged to sign up as stem cell donors.

Pupils at Barnfield College, Luton Sixth Form College, and the University of Bedfordshire will learn about their lifesaving potential during Luton Swab Week, which runs from today until February 2.

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Student ambassadors from stem cell transplant charity Anthony Nolan will educate their peers about stem cells, their role in transplant, and the significance of stem cell donation. Luton is a focus because of its diverse population, as patients are more likely to find a matching donor from someone with a similar ethnic background to them.

Usunobun OriwohUsunobun Oriwoh
Usunobun Oriwoh

Usunobun Oriwoh, a student at the University of Bedfordshire, volunteered to be a student ambassador. She said: “I am volunteering because I wish to join hands with Anthony Nolan and be a part of a good cause of saving lives.

"The chances of getting a matching donor are higher for all ethnicities if we can get more people from diverse backgrounds willing to sign up. This will help to shorten the waiting time for patients who need stem cell transplants from minority ethnic backgrounds.”

The initiative was a success in 2023, and 389 new stem cell donors were added to the list.

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Cath Gunn, principal at Barnfield College said: "As a proud participant in Luton Swab Week, Barnfield College is honoured to support this crucial initiative. I’m proud to see students stepping up as ambassadors to make a difference on campus and in the lives of those in need.”

Altaf Hussain, principal and CEO at Luton Sixth Form College said: “Luton Sixth Form is delighted to once again be leading on Luton Swab Week, alongside other key partners from across town. Luton’s strength is in our community, and we are proud to step forward for this important cause.”

Ruki Heritage, director of student experience at the University of Bedfordshire, added: “Luton Swab Week is crucial in raising awareness and we are committed to doing everything we can as a University to support this initiative.

“It’s so quick and easy to sign up to the donor register and we are looking forward to hosting pop-up events on campus throughout the week so our students can find out more."