Glasgow student inspires hundreds to register as bone marrow donors


Claire Thomson
Views Editor

A Glasgow University student diagnosed with leukaemia has penned a blog which has inspired over 200 people to register as bone marrow donors.

Neil McClean, a 20-year-old Physiology student, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in February of 2014 during his first year at university. Following his diagnosis, the student began a blog, Needles, Drugs and Rock and Roll, which light-heartedly documented his experiences of cancer treatment and life post diagnosis.

After going into remission, Neil suspended his blog and returned to university to resume his studies whilst undergoing so-called ‘maintenance’ chemotherapy. In April of this year, the leukaemia returned after a period of remission of under two years. Neil now urgently requires a bone marrow transplant to save his life.

The blog announcing the cancer’s return and Neil’s need for a donor has received over 20,000 views and inspired at least 210 people to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow donor register in the weekend following its publication. Everton FC and comedian Jack Whitehall have shared Neil’s blog on Twitter and encouraged their followers to take the time to join the register.

The donor registration process takes around ten minutes and requires a prospective donor to spit into a tube after filling in a form.

According to the website of the UK’s biggest bone cancer charity, Anthony Nolan, the process of bone marrow donation is often misunderstood. The Charity say that the myth about the donation procedure being extremely painful “obstructs our work and gets in the way of saving lives, because people are too afraid to sign up to the register, or even back out once they’re found as a match for someone in desperate need.”

90% of donations are taken via a simple intravenous procedure, similar to donating blood. Further information on the registration and donation processes is available on the Anthony Nolan website, where saliva sample kits can also be ordered for those unable to attend a clinic.

Glasgow University Marrow will be holding a drop in donor registration drive on the 22nd of June on the fourth floor of the Wolfson Medical Building between 11am and 5pm. Those who wish to join the register on the day are asked not to eat, drink or smoke half an hour prior to giving their saliva sample.


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