Coronavirus: Anthony Nolan charity worker steps up to deliver vital stem cells during pandemic

Holly Pullinger, with a special box of stem cells. Picture: Anthony Nolan

Holly Pullinger, with a special box of stem cells. Picture: Anthony Nolan - Credit: Archant

The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t mean other serious illnesses disappear – and one Crouch End woman has stepped up to make sure stem cells reach those in desperate need of a transplant.

Holly Pullinger, 25, works for Anthony Nolan – the Hampstead-based blood cancer charity.

Throughout the year, the charity uses volunteers to courier vital packages of stem cells from donation points to the hospitals where they are needed.

Usually, Holly works to help would-be stem cell donors sign up to donate, but with many of the charity’s regular volunteers – who are often older people – forced to self-isolate amid the pandemic, she’s stepped up and is volunteering as a courier.

So far, Holly has undertaken three deliveries.

She told the Ham&High: “I have been working for Anthony Nolan since September last year. My normal job is reading through applications from people trying to joing the stem cell register.

“When this started they sent around a call at work for anyone to become a volunteer courier so that our more vulnerable couriers could stay at home. I really wanted to make sure they didn’t feel they had to come and do this if they were at risk.”

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“A stem cell transplant for most patients is their last chance. It’s really essential to them.”

The charity said on average, volunteers help save it more than £500,000 each year.

To meet social distancing rules, the charity has also created a “Handover Hub” at Heathrow Airport which enables lifesaving stem cells to be taken in and out of the country without putting couriers at risk of the coronavirus.

Henny Braund, the chief exec of Anthony Nolan said: ‘Anthony Nolan was founded on the kindness of strangers. The reason we’ve been able to take swift and immediate action to ensure lives can be are saved because of our wonderful staff team, like Holly, who sprang into action when she was asked to deputise for our volunteer couriers.”

Anthony Nolan needs to raise an extra £10,000, every month that the coronavirus pandemic continues, to fund this work. Visit find out how you can help the charity keep this lifesaving work going.