Belfast backs stem cell registration

Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast celebrates ‘charity of the year partnership’ with DKMS to support blood cancer patients.


Over the weekend of 15 – 16 March, in a collaboration with DKMS UK, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Aine Groogan, hosted a two-day event aimed at raising awareness for people living with blood cancer and blood disorders, to encourage more people to join the DKMS stem cell register.

During the reception at Belfast City Hall which launched the event, Louise Donnelly, the sister of Tracy McKenna — a 35-year-old mother of two from Omagh, Northern Ireland, who has leukaemia — shared, "It isn't until you know someone in these circumstances that you can really comprehend the importance of being on the stem cell register. This is within our power, and it is the greatest gift you can give to anyone."

With over 150 people joining the stem cell register in person and an additional 924 online registrations, the event demonstrated the willingness of Belfast and Northern Ireland residents to support our mission. It also highlighted the importance of community involvement in expanding the stem cell registry, offering hope and a chance for a new beginning to those affected by blood cancers and disorders.

DKMS CEO, with Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast and other guests
Two guests smiling at a DKMS event
Man smiling and swabbing at DKMS event
A couple and their baby smiling at a DKMS event
A DKMS stem cell registration event
Two females smiling at a DKMS event

Aine and Lesley’s stories

Deputy Mayor Aine Groogan's

Deputy Mayor Aine Groogan's personal connection to the cause, stemming from close family members' leukaemia diagnosis, was also a moving reminder of the event's significance. Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with blood cancer and for many of them, their only hope of a second chance at life is a stem cell transplant.

Lesley Calder from Omagh, who found her stem cell match and received a transplant after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2019, shared her moving story. "I've got my life back," she said, highlighting the profound impact of stem cell donation. Lesley's story and other DKMS supporters based in Northern Ireland helped us achieve a very high level of coverage from different media outlets including BBC, Good Morning Ulster, Belfast Live, UTV and Cool FM.

Building hope through action

DKMS spokesperson Phil Hoffman expressed gratitude to the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland for their support, and for the invaluable connections made during the event, which DKMS will now be working to build on. Emphasizing the ease and importance of registering as a stem cell donor, his message was clear: "Registering means you're joining a chain of hope for those in need of a stem cell transplant." You can register online here.

For more information on how you can support DKMS, visit this link and take a step towards making a difference.

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