UNIVERSITY of Bradford graduate Zainab Garba-Sani is on a mission to find potential lifesavers for people with blood cancer.

The 21-year-old, who graduated in clinical sciences and became cancer charity DKMS's first student ambassador last year, wants people to register as blood stem cell donors and go on standby to save a life.

Ten years ago a friend of hers got a life-changing blood stem cell donation to treat her sickle cell anaemia. Inspired by the help her friend received she decided to back the charity's work so more people can get a second chance at life.

She said: “Coming from a Nigerian ethnic origin I have seen the effect of blood diseases and how they impact so many lives. Unfortunately, due to a lack of awareness, not enough people with an African heritage register to become potential blood stem cell donors.”

While at university, Zainab set up a society of volunteers on the campus to encourage donors which netted 200 more people to register.

Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer, such as leukaemia. It is the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK but less than half of the UK population are aware of blood cancer issues.

A blood stem cell donation from a genetically similar person can often be the best hope of survival, but only one in three people in need of a transplant will find a matching donor in their own family.

More than 300,000 people in the UK have already registered as potential donors with DKMS. However, as little as 5 per cent of donors have a South Asian heritage and less than three per cent of donors are black.

The charity’s latest advertising campaign encourages people to ‘swab to be a lifesaver’ and adverts have been appearing across the country to raise awareness of the need for more potential donors.

Zainab said: “Becoming a DKMS ambassador has been absolutely amazing, it’s enabled me to educate more students and help the fight against blood cancer by raising awareness of a problem that is global and can affect anybody at anytime.

“If you’re looking to help make a difference and give something back to the community then this is a great place to start. DKMS is such an amazing charity and we need so many more people to get behind this and volunteer to potentially help save someone’s life. It’s so rewarding and I would urge you to do it.”

Anyone aged between 17 and 55-years-old and in general good health can register for a home swab kit at

The charity gets no Government funding and relies on donations. To register just one potential blood stem cell donor it costs about £40.