“Whatever happens to me, a lot of good will come out of the campaign that bears my name.”

– Evening Standard, 29 March 1995


November 23, 2023 would have been Sue’s 61st birthday and her campaign, now in its 30th year, has been busier than ever.

It began at the end of January, with our pilot in Luton to support the diversification of the UK’s stem cell register. A pioneering town-wide Swab Week was held from 23-27 January in Luton, where more than 150 languages and dialects are spoken and over half the town do not identify as white British.

Non-white blood cancer patients are at a major disadvantage as 70% of all registered stem cell donors are white, even though 88% of the world’s population isn’t.

The goal was to establish a model for donor recruitment that is not dependent on patient-led campaigns and one which could be easily replicated across the country in other locations with diverse populations.

389 young Lutonians joined the register, of whom 83% were not of a white European background. This represented an increase of almost 50% in the diverse ethnic donors from Luton on the national register and this success has resulted in a second Luton Swab Week being scheduled for next January.

In recognition for its work in launching the Luton Swab Week pilot, the Sue Harris Trust was honoured recently to receive the Minority Ethnic Advocate Award at the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards (ANSAs) 2023.

February is when we hold our annual Jewish Swab Week and this year, we recruited 600 donors in eleven schools in London and Manchester, as well as seven seminaries and yeshivot in Gateshead.

In March, we responded to our first patient appeal of the year – Murray, a 41-year-old member of the Sydney Jewish community. In the UK over 3,500 donors were recruited during Campaign Murray, including a mega recruitment event in Stamford Hill where 1,980 people swabbed in just four hours.

In June, we supported a second patient appeal for James, a 57-year-old Londoner, which recruited over 2,000 donors across 20 events.

Then in the summer, working with Jewish youth movements (BA, FZY, JLGB, Habonim, Noam, RSY and Tribe), we recruited another 500 donors on Israel Tour.

In addition to Murray and James, Sue’s campaign has this year also helped three other patients in London seeking a matching stem cell donor – a much larger number than we have supported for some time. Indeed, notwithstanding the success of Jewish donor recruitment over the last 25 years, especially with the growth of the register at Ezer Mizion in Israel, some Jewish patients still face challenges.

Other minority ethnic and mixed heritage patients have even more significant hurdles in their way and Sue’s campaign has played an active role in supporting the National BAME Transplant Alliance in its efforts to remove this major health inequality. We recently made this submission to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ethnicity, Transplantation and Transfusion, which will launch its report Where are our nation’s donors? on 4 December.

And finally, the really good news.

It’s been very uplifting to hear that another ten people, recruited by Sue’s campaign, have gone on to be donors for patients.

Chananya Landau, recruited at Menorah Grammar School for Boys, sums it up, “Just a few months ago, I found out that I was a full match for someone and here I am doing the stem cell donation now. It’s super easy and it doesn’t take more than a couple of days – it’s an amazing thing to do, you are saving a life. You have no idea what you could do for the world.”

Whosoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved the entire world. 

Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a)