Police Scotland and blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan have joined forces to launch a pioneering programme which has the potential to save hundreds of lives.
The force will work in partnership with the charity to recruit officers to the national stem cell donor register and with hundreds of healthy young recruits joining every year, this could result in life-saving matches for blood cancer patients in Scotland and around the world.
It is the first time such an arrangement has taken place and as part of the ground-breaking scheme recruits will be given the opportunity to hear a presentation during their training at the Police Scotland College and will have the opportunity to join as a potential donor for someone in need of a life-saving transplant.
As many as 800 recruits can be trained in a year at the college, based at Tulliallan Castle in Kincardine, Fife and all will be invited to a donor registration event, which will also be open to serving officers who are visiting the college.
Potential donors should be aged from 16-30, weigh at least 50kg and be in good health. The charity is particularly looking for more young men to join, as they are currently underrepresented on the register.
Constable Frazer McFadyen, 29, has first-hand experience of the life-saving difference stem cell donors can make. He joined the donor register in 2002, and helped set up a marrow student group at Stirling University to organise donor recruitment and awareness-raising events for Anthony Nolan.
As he was completing initial police training 10 years later he was selected as a match for someone with blood cancer.
He said: “The week that was scheduled for the transplant happened to be my passing-out parade from the Police College. I explained to everyone that the transplant was going on and they were really supportive and we made the timings work.
“Donating was easy, just like an extended blood donation. I had a visitor from Anthony Nolan who was really helpful, and the whole thing was an incredible experience.”
Superintendent Chris Stones, from Police Scotland’s training, leadership and development department at Police Scotland, said the force is fully behind the initiative.
He said: “Our recruits have always spent time and energy on supporting charitable work while they undertake their training and the opportunity to support Anthony Nolan was one we embraced. Having met with the Anthony Nolan team and spoken to those affected, my hope is that Police Scotland can make a difference to someone’s life.”
Henny Braund, chief executive of Anthony Nolan, also said that the charity is delighted with the scheme.
She said: “By joining the stem cell donor register, officers at Police Scotland have the potential to save the lives of people with blood cancer. This is an exciting opportunity to raise awareness of the stem cell donor register and make a massive difference to people with blood cancer in Scotland and beyond.”