Why is there a need for people to apply and join the donor registry?
Thousands of patients with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, sickle cell anemia or other life-threatening diseases depend on the worldwide Volunteer Donor Registry to find a match to save their life. Patients need donors who are a genetic match. Even with a registry of millions, many patients cannot find a match. To help more patients find a donor, we need to increase the ethnic diversity of the registry.
Is there an age limit for donors?
Doctors choose donors based on what is best for their patient. When more than one potential donor is a good HLA match for a patient, doctors will also consider other factors, including the donor’s age. Research shows that cells from younger donors lead to more successful transplants. Doctors request donors in the 18-45 age group 86% of the time.
Does race or ethnicity affect matching?
Because tissue types used in matching are inherited, you are most likely to match someone of the same ethnic ancestry or ethnic background.
How is a bone marrow match determined?
Doctors look for a donor who matches their patient’s tissue type, specifically their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type. HLAs are proteins — or markers — found on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses these markers to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not. The closer the match between the patient’s HLA markers and yours, the better for the patient.
How likely is it that I will match a patient and go on to donate?
Because of the vast variation in tissue types, we can’t predict an individual registry member’s chance of donating to a patient. If you have a relatively common tissue type, you might be one of many who could match a searching patient. If you have an uncommon tissue type, you may never match a patient, or you might be the only one on the registry who can save a person’s life. Every person who joins the registry gives patients more hope of finding the match they need. The most important thing you can do as a registry member is to stay informed and committed so that if you’re selected as the best donor, you’re ready to move forward.
How do I use the registration kit to collect a cheek cell sample?
When you join the registry, you will use our registration kit to give a swab of cheek cells. We will analyze the sample you provide and use the results to match you to patients. Once you join online, you will receive your kit in the mail. Instructions are included in your kit.
I’ve already been tested for a family member. How can I add my results to the Registry?
Get a copy of your human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue typing lab report and call us. You will need to fill out a health history form to verify you meet medical guidelines. You will also need to sign a consent form agreeing to be listed on the Registry. Once you are listed on our registry, we will contact you if you are identified as a possible match for a patient.
Can I get tested for a specific patient or family member?
When you join the Registry, you make a commitment to donate to any patient in need who matches you. As a volunteer, you are never under any legal obligation to donate and your decision is always respected. However, because a late decision not to donate can be life-threatening to a patient, please think seriously about your commitment before deciding to join our registry. You can request a copy of your own testing results after you join the Registry. However, if you want to be tested only for a specific patient, you will need to have your testing done privately. You can contact the patient’s transplant center or transplant doctor for more information.
How do I become a bone marrow donor?
The first step to become a bone marrow donor is to join the Registry. If a doctor selects you as a match for a patient, you may be asked to donate stem cells from blood (PBSC) or bone marrow.
How will I know if I’m asked to donate PBSC or bone marrow?
When you join the registry, you agree to donate by whichever method is needed. The patient’s doctor asks for either marrow or PBSC, depending on what is best for the patient.
How long does donating take?
Becoming a donor requires a time commitment. Before you donate, there are several steps to make sure you are the best donor for the patient. These steps include an information session to provide resources to help you make your decision, as well as appointments for additional blood tests and a physical exam. The time needed for the actual donation depends on the donation procedure.
What is my commitment if I join?
When you join the Registry, you make a commitment to:
> Keep us updated if your contact information changes, if you have significant health changes, and if you change your mind about being a donor.
> Respond quickly if you are contacted as a potential match for a patient.
> Donate to any patient in need who matches you
> Be listed on the registry until your 61st birthday, unless you ask to be removed.
Can I change my mind?
You have the right to change your mind about being a donor at any time. Donating is always voluntary. If you decide you do not want to donate, let us know right away. We will need to continue the search for another donor without dangerous — even life-threatening- delays for the patient.