At the present time Anthony Nolan has approx. 447,600 donors and the National Blood Service’s “British Bone Marrow Registry” has approx. 301,150 donors. Both registers mainly consists of Caucasian donors and so have a SEVERE shortage of donors from the Black and Ethnic Minority communities.
APPROX. DONOR NUMBERS ON THE ANTHONY NOLAN REGISTER BROKEN DOWN BY ETHNICITY:
AFRICAN AND AFRICAN CARIBBEAN: 19,000
MIXED RACE: ???????
NORTH EUROPEAN: 339,640
CENTRAL/SOUTH EUROPEAN: 278
EASTERN EUROPEAN: 906
MIDDLE EASTERN: 703
OTHER NORTHERN EUROPEAN: 85
APPROX. DONOR NUMBERS ON THE BRITISH BONE MARROW REGISTRY (BBMR):
Although the BBMR has 301,150 potential bone marrow donors on its registry just 14,449 are from the Black and Minority Ethnic communities.
This equates to just 4.79% of potential bone marrow donors on the BBMR which is administered by the National Blood Service are from the BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities.
The other Bone Marrow Donor Registers around the world also experience this problem.
In deciding whether a potential donor’s bone marrow will be compatible with a patient it is necessary to carry out blood tests to ascertain both persons (donor and Recipient) tissue types. Each person’s tissue type is made up of a series of antigens - there are hundreds of antigens in existence and therefore thousands of tissue types. Different antigens and permutations of antigens are more commonly found within certain racial or ethnic sections of society. i.e. it would be unlikely to find a match for a African/African Caribbean British patient from a largely Caucasian register. Similarly, an Asian patient would be more likely to find a match from within the Asian community, and so on.
A persons tissue type is an inherited characteristic which is passed on from parents to their children and research has shown that the chances of finding a matching donor for a patient is GREATER if the donor is from the same Racial/Ethnic background and descent. We are currently trying to recruit more ethnic minority potential donors in our efforts to offer patients the CHANCE OF LIFE.