Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Bone marrow plea to blood donors

Transplant operation
Bone marrow transplants are often the only hope for leukaemia patients

People who give blood are to be asked whether they also want to register as potential bone marrow donors.

The move came after a tie-up between the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and the Anthony Nolan Trust.

It is hoped giving people the chance to join the bone marrow register at blood donation centres will allow more leukaemia patients to get transplants.

The trust said increasing the number of people on the register was vital to saving lives.

To join the register, potential bone marrow donors need to be aged between 18-40 years old, in good health and fully committed to undergo the donation procedure if required.

Angela MacVicar, donor recruitment manager from the Anthony Nolan Trust, said a patient is diagnosed with leukaemia or a related illness every 21 minutes in the UK, with a bone marrow transplant sometimes being the only cure.

She added: "Every individual that joins the register could potentially save a life, as they may be the only person in the world who is a match for a patient with a life-threatening illness. So it really could be one of the most important and regarding steps that an individual ever takes."

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