Sydney hip-hop artist, BVT

Strength to Give Shatters Barriers with Inclusive Stem Cell Donor Campaign Featuring Artist BVT and Sydney’s Voguing Icons 

In a substantial move towards more inclusive stem cell donor recruitment, the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) charity is launching a fresh campaign targeting young people between the ages of 18 and 35. The initiative strongly emphasises welcoming members of the LGBTQIA+ community, some of whom have previously found themselves excluded from becoming stem cell donors. This campaign aims to remove barriers, broadening the spectrum of potential lifesavers. 

Currently, state governments fund the recruitment of stem cell donors solely through the blood donation process, which can exclude many in the LGBTQIA+ community. However, LGBTQIA+ identity is of no relevance to stem cell donation. Recognising the necessity to address this disparity and increase the accessibility of its registry, ABMDR has, through its self-funded Strength to Give brand campaign, reshaped the donor recruitment process allowing all young people to join with simple cheek swabs. This fosters a more diverse and representative collection of potential lifesavers and increases the chances of saving more lives.  

Lisa Smith, CEO of ABMDR, commented, “Critically ill Australian patients requiring a life-saving stem cell transplant urgently need more Australians to join our registry. Not funding ABMDR to recruit those who can’t or don’t donate blood is an outdated policy that doesn’t give patients their best chance of finding a donor.”  

“Introducing home-delivered swabs not only makes joining the registry easy for everyone, it also lets us launch this Strength to Give advertising campaign – the first campaign in 30 years to raise awareness about the need for stem cell donors.  I’m thrilled that our first campaign showcases amazing artists from the LGBTQIA+ community,” Lisa added. 

Featuring BVT, a QPOC hip-hop artist and rapper, alongside standout figures from Sydney’s vibrant voguing scene, the Strength to Give campaign offers a powerful blend of creativity, activism, and unity. Voguing, a dance style deeply rooted in LGBTQIA+ culture, adds a dynamic and lively dimension to the film, amplifying the messages of freedom and inclusivity.  

“At this crucial juncture, the community’s collective effort can genuinely shift the current reality for many people facing blood cancer. We need to significantly boost the numbers of registered stem cell donors, and we also need to build a cohesive community of donors where diversity in all forms is celebrated, as a diverse donor pool best meets the needs of Australia’s diverse patient population. These things should have been done a long time ago – it’s straightforward, it’s fair, and it’s time governments stepped in with the funding we need to continue doing this,” Lisa stated. 

Every 28 minutes in Australia, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. For many the only chance of survival and a cure is a stem cell transplant from a complete stranger. However, due to Australia’s critical shortage of local donors, 8 out of 10 of these patients must rely on stem cells donated overseas. Australia needs more local donors.