LAST year 20,841 people from Scotland registered as stem cell donors, according to a new report.

And little Lochgelly girl Ava Stark is playing her part in getting donors aboard.

The annual review from Anthony Nolan and NHS Blood and Transplant, From Strength to Strength, reveals there are now 103,540 registered adults on the UK donor register from Scotland, an increase of 20% from 2015.

A fantastic response to an appeal for three year-old, Ava, led to 20,000 donors joining the Anthony Nolan register in just a week. A record number of new donors from BAME backgrounds joined the national register in 2016, an important step towards diversification – however, more work is needed to address imbalances in the ethnic make-up of the donor pool.

Despite the increase, BAME donors still make up just 15% of the register (the remainder are 78% northern European, 7% unknown/prefer not to say); the shortage means that BAME patients have only a 20.5% chance of finding the best possible donor match, compared to 69% for northern Europeans.

2016 also saw a record number of young men register as stem cell donors (35%; 64,226), but thousands more are still needed.

Ava’s picture was chosen to lead the Anthony Nolan Trust Donor Appeal and it made quite an impact.

The Noah’s Ark Nursery youngster found out towards the end of the year that her appeal had found a suitable donor and her stem cell transplant took place and she has been recovering ever since.

And in June she won the Times/Dunfermline Press Little Champion of the Year Award.

The Anthony Nolan Trust are acutely aware that they need even more people to come forward to be tested as possible donors.

Currently, men make up less than 40% of the register (39.6%; 510,804), but provide almost 80% (79.6%) of all donations. Male donors are generally preferred as their bigger body mass means they can produce more stem cells, and they are more likely to be available than women, who are unable to donate while pregnant or for 12 months after giving birth.

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “From Strength to Strength shines a light on the inequalities which remain for black, Asian and minority ethnic patients in need of donors.

“We will continue to work hard to recruit more minority ethnic and young male donors so we can achieve our goal of finding the best possible match for everyone in need of a transplant.

“The report also clearly shows that we made encouraging progress in diversifying the register through targeted activity to recruit more young men and people from diverse backgrounds as donors. It’s pleasing to see a significant increase in cord blood units.”