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Volunteer from Crystal Palace works round the clock to deliver life-saving stem cell transplants

A charity worker from Crystal Palace is working round the clock and against travel restrictions and closed borders to deliver life-saving stem cells to blood cancer patients.

Collecting from the handover hub at Heathrow

Thirty-two-year-old Rebecca Pritchard has worked for the charity Anthony Nolan since 2014, where she helps recruit donors to its register.

During the lockdown she has volunteered as a courier, traveling across the UK to collect cells and then transporting them to blood cancer and disorder patients awaiting their transplant.

Normally the charity has around 50 volunteers, mostly retired who do this work; including overseas collection.

During the pandemic the charity has decided to find alternative arrangements to protect its volunteers – many of whom need to self-isolate – including training up office staff.

Once a donor has given their cells, couriers have just 72 hours to get them to the patient for them to be transplanted effectively.

An emergency ‘handover hub’ has been set up at Heathrow for volunteers to pick up cells from international couriers who would normally go directly to hospitals.

“I have always wanted to courier – although it’s a huge responsibility there’s something incredible about being that link between the donor and the patient and playing a small part in hopefully saving someone’s life,” said Becca.

To donate to Anthony Nolan’s emergency appeal, visit


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