Chilling out on bean bags, eating popcorn, watching a film and potentially saving a life? Not activities you’d normally put together, but that’s what the Welsh Blood Service asked hundreds of Aberystwyth University students to do this week, by joining their Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry (WBMDR).
The Powys County Times reported “On the opening day alone, 25 students from Aberystwyth University signed up to join the register, and potentially donate life-saving bone marrow, as part of the ‘#ChilledOutLifesaver’ campaign which sees a series of pop up ‘chill-out’ zones visiting universities across the country. Its aim is to encourage people aged 17-30 to join the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry (WBMDR) and if called upon, see for themselves how it’s a chilled-out way to save a life.
People who joined the bone marrow register relaxed in front of a movie, read a magazine, ate some popcorn and learned more about how they can help before giving blood. One of the latest members of the bone marrow register Mya Osboure, 22-years-old, currently studying Zoo-ology at Aberystwyth said: “I’ve got a grandparent who’s been going through breast cancer, my mums been unwell and I was born premature so underwent various operations, it’s always in my mind that if you’ve got it, then give it.
“I’ve donated blood twice here but didn’t decide to join the [register] previous times because the procedure sounded scary, but now I know a little more I figured that I’d sign up and hopefully I can help someone in need.”
The WBMDR is a register of blood donors who have volunteered to become bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell donors. The register is searched every day by clinicians from across the world who are trying to find donors whose tissue type is a close match to patients who need lifesaving bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplants.
The Welsh Blood Service’s #ChilledOutLifesaver campaign playfully contrasts the complexity of ‘traditionally’ saving a life, with the simplicity of becoming a bone marrow donor, which starts with sitting back and giving an extra blood sample at a blood donation session.
Emma Cook, head of the Welsh Bone Marrow Registry, said: “Becoming a bone marrow donor is so much easier than most people think and just requires providing an extra sample of blood at your next donation.
“By targeting people aged 17-30, we will have the best chance of creating a larger pool of people we could call on to help save as many lives as possible. Students are stereotypically extremely chilled out, so we wanted to use this insight to create a fresh, modern campaign that young people can relate to.
“Only 30 per cent of patients in need of a life changing donation can find a suitable match within their own family, so it’s common to rely on the kindness of strangers. As a bone marrow transplant is often the last resort it’s so important to ensure we have people on the register ready to donate.”
There are a number of blood donation clinics scheduled across Wales over the coming weeks where donors can start their #ChilledOutLifesaver journey. Simply book an appointment to give blood and ask to join the bone marrow register before you donate. For more information visit welsh-blood.org.uk or calling the Welsh Blood Service on 0800 252266″ here.