Marrow Donation
If you are like most people, you have a few basic questions about what it means to be added to the Marrow Registry. It's natural to be unsure and perhaps even a bit apprehensive.
Some Facts...

Registering as a marrow/stem cell donor does NOT require a bone marrow sample, it's just a vial of blood or a simple finger stick similar to what you give during your annual physical examinations. It's fast and easy.

The National Marrow Donor Program does the tissue typing, and puts the donor in a national registry. If there ever is a match between a patient and a potential donor, the donor will be contacted by the center they were tested in or NMDP. The donor will undergo a few higher-level blood tests, because exact compatibility is so important.

Questions & Answers
Q: What is NMDP?
A: National Marrow Donor Program is a federally supported organization that assists in locating unrelated donors.
Q: What exactly is a marrow / stem cell transplant?
A: Simply, it is the replacement of diseased marrow with marrow from a health donor infused into a patientýs vein just like a blood transfusion. Within two to three weeks the transplanted marrow / stem cells begin to produce normal blood cells in the patient.
Q: Is marrow/stem cell transplantation a proven technique?
A: Eighteen years ago marrow transplants were done only as a patientýs last hope. Today, thousands of lives are saved every year at approved medical centers worldwide.
Q: Which diseases can be treated by marrow transplant?
A: Over 50 diseases including the leukemias, aplastic anemia, severe combined immune deficiency, sickle cell anemia and radiation poisoning are treated by marrow transplant.
Q: What are the chances of finding a suitable marrow or stem cell donor?
A: The odds are 1 in 20,000 to 1 in a 100,000 for an unrelated donor. Odds are much higher, however, for patients of minority heritage. YOU could be that special life-giving person!
Q: Are donors matched only against American patients?
A: No, the patient could be anywhere in the world. Many American patients have found donors from International donor sources.
Q: Who can become a marrow / stem cell donor?
A: You must be between 18 and 60 years old, have no history of hepatitis, heart disease, cancer or AIDS, and sign a consent form allowing the Registry to include your HLA tissue type in its confidential files for future matching.
Q: And it only takes a simple blood test to get started?
A: Once the consent form is signed, YES, itýs that simple. The remaining sample is frozen to be used for second level testing if you should match at the first level. Of course, your consent to do so would be obtained.
Q: Where is the blood drawn?
A: The blood is drawn at a laboratory in your community, or by your personal physician. Complete instructions are included with the kit. If you attend a community sponsored event, a licensed phlebotomist will be responsible for drawing your blood sample.
Q: How do I know if I am a match?
A: If you are found to be a possible match with a patient, the center in which you tested and/or the NMDP will contact you immediately and give you the option of proceeding to the next level/s of testing to insure final HLA compatibility with the patient.
Q: Who pays for these tests?
A: Not you - the patient or his/her medical insurance does.
Q: What happens if I am a match?
A: If the match is confirmed the transplant can be scheduled but only with your legal consent after in-depth counseling and a thorough physical examination.
Q: Can I withdraw as a donor any time I want to?
A: Up until the time you provide us with your final, legal consent to proceed to harvest. Yes, but we hope that you would not want to change your mind as too much is at stake for the patient needing your help, and because you are a educated, committed donor.
Q: Where can I get a more detailed medical description of the process?
Information provided by

After being treated with high-dose anticancer drugs and/or radiation, the patient receives the harvested stem cells, which travel to the bone marrow and begin to produce new blood cells.
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