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C'mon 18- to 35-year-olds, let's step up and save a life!

Lucy Bladen
Updated March 4 2024 - 6:58am, first published 5:30am

If you asked many 18- to 35-year-olds about their knowledge around blood stem cell, or bone marrow, transplants they would likely say "not much".

WATCH: The Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry is in desperate need of new donors in the 18- to 35-year-old age range.

I would know because until recently I was one such 18- to 35-year-old who had very little knowledge of this.

I didn't know the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry was in desperate need of 18- to 35-year-olds.

I didn't know it was simple to sign up to the registry and all I had to do was order a cheek swabbing kit online and send it back.

But as soon as I found out, I ordered my kit straight away and now I'm on the registry.

There's only about a one in 1000 chance I will get the call that I am a match for someone. If I do end up being a match the procedure I will likely have to undergo is similar to a blood test and the recovery time is about one to two days.

Over the years there have been many campaigns around organ donation awareness.

We know it's not enough to have ticked the box on your licence but you also need to be signed up to the DonateLife registry and you also need to make sure your family knows your wishes.

A sign calling for funding to the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Picture by Sitthixay Ditthavong
A sign calling for funding to the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Picture by Sitthixay Ditthavong

But there is nowhere near the same level of understanding around blood stem cell, or bone marrow, transplants.

It's unfortunate to know money has been held up and there is uncertainty about whether the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry will be able to send out kits into the future.

Australia has fallen way behind other countries where there are established lists and healthy registries.

There is a way to turn the tide and that is to get as many 18- to 35-year-olds signing up as possible. The registry has a target of 150,000. That's not much at all (more people went to Taylor Swift's Eras Tour).

Maybe if governments see the demand it might just get them to hurry up and release funds.

Lucy Bladen

Lucy Bladen

Reporter Canberra Times

Lucy Bladen has been a journalist at The Canberra Times since 2019. She is an ACT politics and health reporter. Email: l.bladen@canberratimes.com.au