Two Glasgow women shortlisted for Anthony Nolan awards

Two Glasgow women are set to be honoured by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, at a digital awards celebration this evening (Thursday).
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Dr Kathleen McHugh from Glasgow has been shortlisted for the Clinical Supporter of the Year at the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards 2021, for passionately advocating for better mental health support for stem cell transplant recipients, and people with blood cancer, in Scotland during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Joice Kalukenda (28) from Glasgow has been shortlisted for the Minority Ethnic Advocate of the Year award at the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards 2021 for being an incredible supporter and inspiring a staggering 824 potential donors to join the Anthony Nolan stem cell register.

Kathleen (left) and Joice have been shortlisted for awards.Kathleen (left) and Joice have been shortlisted for awards.
Kathleen (left) and Joice have been shortlisted for awards.

What has Joice done?

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Joice first heard about Anthony Nolan in 2016. While undergoing her biomedical studies, Joice wanted to find a way donate in any way she can to help others. Her research led her to the Anthony Nolan website where she found out that she could joining the Anthony Nolan register and potentially by a lifesaving stem cell donor one day.

As a women from Congo (DRC) descent, Joice understood Anthony Nolan needed more people from minority ethnic backgrounds to sign up, as 71% of transplant recipients who are White Caucasian receive the best match. But this drops dramatically to around 37% for transplant recipients who are from an ethnic minority background.

In 2018, Joice was contacted by Anthony Nolan and told that she was found to be a match for a patient in need of a stem cell transplant. Joice then travelled to London to donate her stem cells.

When asked about the donation process, Joice said: “I found the process very straightforward, I did it all in my normal clothes. All the travel was paid for by Anthony Nolan, so my boyfriend and I just turned up and watched Netflix through the entire process.”

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Since then, Joice has been passionate about raising awareness for the need to diversify the register. She has created several social media posts documenting her donation journey. Her creativity and charisma naturally landed her a spot Anthony Nolan’s social media adverts.

Joice was involved in Anthony Nolan’s Black History Month campaign and in total, she has inspired over a staggering 800 potential donors to join the Anthony Nolan stem cell register.

When asked about her nomination, Joice said: “I feel very excited. It’s amazing to even be considered and having my contributions recognised.”

Henny Braund, chief executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “It is remarkable to see how many people support our work to find a match for those in need of a stem cell transplant. Without them, none of our life-saving work would be possible. Congratulations to Joice. Your passion, enthusiasm and insight has been invaluable in inspiring people from ethnic minority background to join the stem cell register and potentially give a patient a second chance at life.”

What has Kathleen done?

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Dr McHugh works in the Scottish National Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow and has been working with Anthony Nolan since 2015. Her role involves coordinating and delivering specialist psychological service to every allogeneic stem cell transplant patient at her hospital, enabling Dr McHugh to have an immense wealth of knowledge about the experiences of stem cell transplant patients.

Dr Hugh states that she’s in a privileged position, being in a dedicated psychology team to offer patients and their families support before, during or after transplant. She’s always been aware of the difficulties faced by patients since both her cousin and friend’s brother had a transplant 10 years ago.

Through her role on the post-transplant care expert steering group Dr McHugh has helped Anthony Nolan gather invaluable intel on late post-transplant care, particularly in Scotland. This has given Anthony Nolan great insight in the variation of treatment and care across the UK and as well as an understanding of what the highest standard of care for post-transplant patients looks like.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, needs for patients were often unmet, particularly around mental health. Dr McHugh strongly advocated for the need for greater psychological support for blood cancer and stem cell transplant patients. From her experience, she clearly demonstrated the challenges that patients have experienced related to their treatment and care during the pandemic and the impact that this has had on their mental health.

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When asked about her nominations, Dr McHugh said: “I’m just really pleased to be nominated. It’s such a lovely thing to think that people value you in that way and put you forward for an award.”

This year, Dr McHugh has also joined #TeamAN for the London Marathon in October and hopes to fundraise and raise awareness for the charity.

Mr Braund said: “It is remarkable to see how many people support our work to find a match for those in need of a stem cell transplant. Without them, none of our life-saving work would be possible. Congratulations Dr McHugh. Your hard work to advocate for the voices of the most vulnerable in society is truly inspiring.”

What is Anthony Nolan?

Anthony Nolan is the charity that finds matching stem cell donors for people with blood cancer and blood disorders and gives them a second chance at life. It also carries out ground-breaking research to save more lives and provide information and support to patients after a stem cell transplant, through its clinical nurse specialists and psychologists, who help guide patients through their recovery.

All winners will be revealed at 7pm this evening (Thursday) at

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