More than 8,000 new stem cell donors after appeal for sick PSV press secretary

More than 8,000 new stem cell donors after appeal for sick PSV press secretary
PSV drew attention to stem cell donation during the PSV-FC Groningen match last week

NOS News

Some 8,300 people have signed up as stem cell donors in recent weeks, following an appeal to do so by PSV press chief Thijs Slegers. The latter announced on Twitter in early February that the leukemia (blood cancer) from which he suffers is no longer treatable. He called on people to register with the Matchis foundation as donors: “I can no longer be helped, but others can,” he said.

Matchis saw registrations increase immediately after Slegers’ appeal, to about 5,000 new donors a week and a half ago. After that, several thousand more people registered with the foundation, said Matchis spokesman Bert Elbertse. “That’s how fast it can go.”

Last week there was again a lot of attention for Slegers’ appeal. Last weekend, for example, the players and supporters of PSV and FC Groningen clapped for sixty seconds for the ailing press secretary, in the twelfth minute of the league match between the two clubs.

A week earlier, the same thing happened at De Kuip in Rotterdam, during a match between Feyenoord and PSV:

De Kuip claps: fans Feyenoord and PSV pause for incurably ill PSV press secretary

More than two-thirds of all new applications for stem cell donation are men. The Matchis foundation speaks of a unique recruitment, although the occasion is sad. “Of course we look at it with mixed feelings,” says Elbertse. “But it is beneficial that stem cell donation is getting so much attention now, with thousands of applications and lots of questions from people wanting information.”

In total, some 400,000 Dutch people are registered as stem cell donors, but only a very small proportion of them are called up each year. For this, the so-called tissue typing of donor and patient must match as much as possible. Last year, 247 people ended up donating stem cells to patients who needed them.

Cotton swabs

“There is a good 90 percent chance that as a stem cell donor you will never be called,” Elbertse said. He urges people who have signed up to complete their registration as soon as possible. Those who register as donors will be sent home cotton swabs to take cheek swabs.

“Many people don’t do that right away,” Elbertse said. He emphasizes that people cannot be called until they have returned the package with the swabs to Matchis. First the laboratory then examines whether they are suitable as donors.

“If everyone who has signed up in recent weeks returns their cotton swabs, we will exceed 400,000 donors in total,” Elbertse said. Next week, the Matchis Foundation will begin a campaign that includes calling attention to returning the swab samples taken.

NOS on 3 made this video about stem cell donation last year:

In addition to stem cell donation, PSV press chief Slegers called attention to donating blood in his tweet. Several thousand people subsequently registered with blood bank Sanquin as donors, the Eindhovens Dagblad reported last week.

Kayleigh Williams