When your only chance of survival depends on finding a compatible donor, it really is a race against time.
The Leukaemia Cancer Society works very hard in organising donor recruitment events to enlist potential bone marrow/stem cell donors. These donors are added to a register of names held by the Anthony Nolan Trust. Any one of the donors recruited may be a match for a patient one day.
Fewer than 30 per cent of patients who need bone marrow/stem cell transplants find a compatible donor within their own families. The rest rely on those who have volunteered to donate stem cells to anyone in need.
A person's best chance of finding a matching donor is within his or her own ethnic group.
Donors and patients are matched according to the compatibility of inherited genetic markers called Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA). These antigens are inherited from your parents. Up to 12 antigens are considered important in the matching process.