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People’s Choice Award 2023 Gold £50-100 million

Anthony Nolan
Anthony Nolan - One little boy’s lifesaving legacy

Film & Campaign Description


On 2 December 2021, Anthony Nolan would’ve celebrated his 50th birthday. Tragically, Anthony never found the matching donor he needed and he died when he was just seven years old. But since his mum Shirley launched the world’s first stem cell register in 1974, Anthony’s story has given the hope of a lifesaving transplant to thousands of people with blood cancer or a blood disorder.

To mark Anthony’s 50th birthday, we’re celebrating his legacy and the incredible progress Shirley brought to the way blood cancer and blood disorders are treated.

Below, you can see some of the inspiring stories and achievements that wouldn’t have happened #WithoutAnthony.

1974: The Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Register is established: the first of its kind. Today, it’s helped 22,000 people receive a lifesaving transplant. Before this, finding an unrelated stem cell donor was virtually impossible.

1993: Building of the Anthony Nolan Research Institute begins. Today, it's driving ground-breaking research to reduce transplant complications and improve quality of life after transplant.

1994 & 1995: The Anthony Nolan register helps its 1,000th patient, matching them with an anonymous donor for the second chance of life that Shirley believed everyone deserved.

2008: Anthony Nolan sets up the UK’s first dedicated cord blood bank enabling 62,000 new mothers to follow in Shirley’s lifesaving footsteps, donating their umbilical cords for transplant and research

2020: The 800,000th person joined the stem cell register, taking Shirley’s vision to inspiring new heights. Bring on the million!

Anthony Nolan

Saving the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders

Anthony Nolan is the charity that makes lifesaving connections between people with blood cancer and blood disorders and incredible strangers ready to donate their stem cells. We’re saving lives right now. Three lives a day, in fact.

For someone with blood cancer, a stem cell transplant could be their last chance of survival. And for that person, their family, and their friends, they might be waiting for a stranger to give them a second chance of life.

By growing the stem cell register, carrying out ground-breaking research and providing the best post-transplant care, Anthony Nolan gives families a future.”

Founded in 1974 as the world’s first stem cell register, we’re motivated by a mother’s determination to save her son, Anthony. Although he never had his second chance of life, thousands of lives have been saved by an ever-growing stem cell register and ongoing research, thanks to Shirley and Anthony. Their legacy is lifesaving.

  • ■ Every 14 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with blood cancer, making blood cancer the 5th most common cancer. For many, a stem cell transplant is their only hope.
  • ■ Every year over 2,400 start their stem cell donor search.
  • ■ There are over 875,000 people on the Anthony Nolan register.
  • ■ Since 1974, we’ve given over 24,000 people a second chance of life.
  • ■ Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and the third biggest cancer killer. There are three main types – leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma
  • 75% of UK patients won’t find a matching donor in their families, so they turn to Anthony Nolan to find them an unrelated donor.
  • Patients who are White Caucasian have a 72% chance of finding the best match from an unrelated donor. But this drops to a 37% chance for patients from minority ethnic backgrounds.
  • The Anthony Nolan Cord Blood Bank holds 9,386 searchable cord blood units. 5,280 cords were collected in 2022/22.
  • We urgently need more people to join our register so we can provide more matches, we need to fund more research and patient support to improve survival and quality of life, so patients just don’t survive but thrive.