The blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan is searching for more local heroes in the Western Isles to join its bone marrow donor register and help in the fight against blood cancer.

The charity has revealed today that, in the Highlands and Islands, there are more than 5,469 selfless people willing to donate their stem cells, or bone marrow, to save the life of a stranger. More than 550,000 people are currently on the Anthony Nolan register and the average per constituency is 790.

Anthony Nolan was the world’s first bone marrow register. The charity has been saving lives for four decades by matching remarkable people willing to donate their bone marrow to patients in desperate need of a transplant.

Two thirds of UK patients will not find a matching donor from within their families; instead they turn to Anthony Nolan to find them an unrelated donor.

In Scotland the charity works with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to recruit donors, but currently a perfect match can only be found for 60 per cent of transplant patients.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, said: "There are 5,469 heroes on the register here in the Highlands and Islands but the challenge continues. I’m hunting for more crusaders to sign up today, so we can fight blood cancer together. It is something truly heroic to give a stranger a second chance at life. This is why I’m proud to champion this cause to my constituents.

Mrs Grant continued "I am a long-term supporter of blood donation and organ donation initiatives and I am honoured to support Anthony Nolan, together with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, in seeking to encourage 16-30 year olds who are willing to donate their stem cells to potentially cure someone’s blood cancer.’

Ann O’Leary, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, added: "We are delighted that Rhoda Grant has been inspired to encourage others to sign up as donors. Donating is an incredibly selfless thing to do and will give someone with blood cancer their best chance at survival. What many people don’t realise is that it is also surprisingly simple."

To join the Anthony Nolan register you must be 16-30 and in good health. It involves filling out a simple online form and spitting into a tube.

The charity needs heroes of all ages to champion the register at a local level and help us spread the word – from schools, communities and workplaces to your own friends and family. Be a hero - find out how you can help by going to www.anthonynolan.org/capes.