Enter the Young: British teens become world’s youngest donors
This is huge news. While the age to join the bone marrow registry is normally 18 in most countries, the Anthony Nolan registry in the UK made a historical shift at the beginning of October lowering the age to 16. British teenagers joining at this age will be the youngest registered donors in the world. They announced the news on their website 1 October. Here at TransplantInformers we are very interested in youth outreach. We’ve shared the story of tweens who are powerful advocates for donation, and there is fascinating research on Dutch children as donors. Our contributors at ACLT also reported on their exciting urban youth outreach initiative. AADP‘s outreach coordinators focus their activities on appealing to the collegiate set and young professionals, leveraging social media networks. Anthony Nolan’s riveting landmark policy change reflects another clear move toward recognizing youth autonomy.
As the press release states:
The charity has already reached thousands of teens through its education project Register and Be a Lifesaver (R&Be), which was launched in March 2009, following a campaign by Nottinghamshire journalist Adrian Sudbury, who had been diagnosed with leukaemia three years before.
Since then, R&Be volunteers have taught nearly 64,000 students the facts about blood, organ and bone marrow donation, through 1,110 presentations given in 376 schools across the country. As a result, nearly 5,500 young people have signed up to give blood, while nearly 1,500 have joined the organ donor register.
I am particularly interested in how effective this proves as far as actual donation rates, as well as whether these education programs or earlier registration result in better donor retention as well. Not only is Anthony Nolan lowering the age to register, but they have capped the age limit to focus on the key demographic:
You now have to be 16–30 to join the Anthony Nolan register whereas previously, you had to be aged between 18 and 40. There are over 455,000 people on the Anthony Nolan register, but men and women under 30 account for just 23% of the register.
Whether such change will be adopted in other countries is still up in the air. The efficacy of both the age shifts and outreach programs remain to be seen. But you can bet that TransplantInformers will keep following these developments.
Bonus: Press play for an older generation’s tune, still inspiring this “young” editor’s headlines. Though according to Anthony Nolan’s new guidelines I am getting scarily close to over the hill…