On the Agenda - Spit sample may double lives saved

In a nutshell The Anthony Nolan Trust has launched a new way for people to join its bone marrow register - by giving a saliva sample. The UK charity is the first register in the world to use the new system, which it hopes will double the number of lives it saves every day.

Spit sample: Anthony Nolan device
Spit sample: Anthony Nolan device
How could people register before?

Previously, the charity asked people to give blood samples to establish their tissue type, which required visiting a doctor or attending a recruitment event in their area. The new system enables a saliva kit to be posted to someone who wants to join the register, and they just need to fill in a medical questionnaire and spit into a tube.

What has prompted the change?

The switch to saliva comes as part of changes to help the charity reach younger audiences, especially men, who are more likely to become donors. It is also a response to today's lifestyle where potential donors, owing to work or family commitments, may not be able to travel to a recruitment event but would still like to join the register.

PR strategy

The PR was handled in-house by the Anthony Nolan Trust press team. An embargoed press release was sent out to the national media and on the PA newswire.

Media coverage

The BBC News channel covered the story and it also featured on BBC Breakfast. The Sun ran the story on page 9 with the headline: 'Spitting lifesaver', while The Independent covered the story on page 18, with the heading: 'Simple test offers hope for marrow transplants'.

2 transplants take place daily provided by the trust

1,400 people in the UK need a bone marrow transplant.

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