Funding needed to target uni students for bone marrow donations

Mar 7, 2023

Funding needed to target uni students for bone marrow donations

Mar 7, 2023

KATTER’S Australian Party MP Bob Katter is pushing for the allocation of funding towards the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) and to kickstart a national university college campaign which could potentially save the lives of thousands of Australians living with blood cancer. 

In February Mr Katter raised the alarm during Federal Parliament of Australia’s shortfall in bone marrow donors, gaining the attention of Health Minister Mark Butler who acknowledged it was an area of healthcare that had “moved too slow” and had fallen behind in technology including the use of at-home cheek swab kits which assess DNA for potential matches.  

Mr Katter then visited St Leo’s College at the University of Queensland where he successfully supplied 200 swabs to students with the assistance of the ABMDR.  

Now, Mr Katter is calling for the kits to be delivered to all Australian university colleges, however this can only be achieved with sufficient funding for the ABMDR to launch a campaign and produce the swabs.  

Mr Katter said he had been advised there was $12.8m “locked up” from Australia’s international cord blood exports, which was yet to be allocated for any purpose.  

“We have 100,000 people, I’m informed, on the (bone marrow donor) register. To be in line with other countries, we should have 200,000. I can’t see any reason why we can’t get to one million,” Mr Katter said.  

“When I heard about this, my mind went straight back to my university college days. I was president of the university college, and we were approached about blood donations. 

“I couldn’t see anyone in the college objecting to it. We put it to the college council, everyone agreed and nobody disagreed. It was that simple to get blood donations from 200 university students. 

“But (ABMDR chief executive) Lisa Smith has got to approach some 300 or 400 university colleges in Australia, and she needs personnel to do this. She also has to pay for the swabs, and they may come in at $50 a swab by the time you get them processed and everything else. She needs money.”