Saving lives with stem cell donation

Anthony Nolan Image: Tegan Brown

Charles Van Lennep, a trainee paediatric doctor from Newcastle, has taken a very practical approach to saving lives by donating his stem cells to give someone in a critical condition a second chance of life.

“It’s something I have really wanted to do because it’s such a simple thing that could save someone’s life”

Charles Van Lennep, trainee paediatric doctor

Charles is a donor on the stem cell register of Anthony Nolan, a blood cancer charity. The specifics of his biology matched with a patient who required a lifesaving stem cell transplant.

“Without people like Charles we wouldn’t be able to reach the young men, like him, we desperately need”

Rebecca Pritchard, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan

Coincidentally, the trainee doctor had been involved with Anthony Nolan across many areas: from treating patients, to taking part in fundraisers, and now donating. Charles joined Anthony Nolan’s stem cell register before starting his studies at Newcastle, and went on to become involved in the charity’s student group, Newcastle Marrow, which fundraises and recruits students to the stem cell register.

During his time as a trainee doctor at Newcastle, Charles has treated patients who have received stem cell transplants to treat life-threatening conditions and now, he has given his own stem cells to help critically ill people recover.

Charles told the charity, “I was excited when I found out I was a match for someone, especially after being involved with Anthony Nolan for so long.

“In the past I had been a potential match for someone but hadn’t ended up needing to donate my stem cells so it felt like a long time coming. It’s something I have really wanted to do because it’s such a simple thing that could save someone’s life.”

Charles joined Newcastle Marrow in his first year of university and by his fourth year, continued to become President of the group. A passionate member of Newcastle Marrow, Charles went great lengths for Anthony Nolan: he participated in the Great North Run, the Newcastle Strip and featured in a Marrow Strip calendar – all in the name of the charity.

Rebecca Pritchard, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, said: “It’s wonderful to hear that, after working hard to recruit donors to the Anthony Nolan register, Charles is about to give somebody a second chance of life. We rely on our fundraisers, Marrow groups and donors to carry out our lifesaving work.

“Without people like Charles we wouldn’t be able to reach the young men, like him, we desperately need to join the register”, Rebecca continued.

Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer and blood disorder patients in need of stem cell transplants. It also carries out pioneering research to increase stem cell transplant success, and supports patients through the process of the transplant.

The charity currently needs more young men to sign up to the register, as they are most likely to be chosen but only make up 16% of the register. They also require more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to sign up, as they are currently less likely to have their match found.

You can join the Anthony Nolan register if you’re aged between 16 and 30 and are in a healthy condition.

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