Bone Marrow Saves Lives

Registration and Matching Process

Registration and Matching Process
By WikiHow

Bethematch.com1. Make sure you qualify as a donor. Before you register, consider whether you fit the criteria for bone marrow donation. The main criterion is age. People between the ages of 18 and 44 are encouraged to join, as younger people are much less likely to develop complications during or following the donations procedure, while patients who receive donations from younger people have a better chance for long-term survival.

Despite this, people between the ages of 44 and 65 are welcome to join the registry, but they will be required to pay a $100 fee and and are much less likely to be called upon to donate. People over the age of 60 are unable to join the registry, as the risks involved for both the donor and the patient are too high.

There are also a variety of diseases and conditions which could prevent you from becoming a donor. You will be asked to fill out a health history form and be informed if you meet the organization’s health criteria. This is done to protect the health of the donor as well as the patient.

Note that in every country the criteria to be a bone marrow donor are slightly different. If you live outside of the U.S. talk to your doctor to find out about bone marrow donation criteria and registration procedures in your country.

2. Join the blood marrow donation registry. If you believe that you meet the above criteria and are committed to donating bone marrow if called upon, you can register with the National Marrow Donor Program. Once you register, you will be asked to undertake a test known as human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing, which is used to match up patients with potential donors. They will then add your HLA type to a database of potential donors, which doctors can search through to find a match for their patients.

If you register with the Donor Program online, you will need to make an appointment with your doctor to give a blood sample, which will then be tested for HLA type. If you register as a marrow donor while donating blood, they will be able to take an extra blood sample for HLA typing. Just be sure to indicate that you wish to join the registry before you donate blood, so that the staff can prepare to take an extra sample.

The cost of HLA testing is approximately $100, but if you get chosen as a donor this amount will be reimbursed, as it will be covered by the patient’s health insurance. If you register at a blood drive, there may be a sponsor who covers the tissue-typing costs on the day. Whatever you end up paying is tax-deductible.

3. Wait to be contacted as a potential match. Once your HLA results come back and you are entered onto the registry of bone marrow donors, you will need to wait and see if you are contacted by a patient or their doctor as a potential match. As mentioned above, the chances of this happening vary greatly from person to person and are almost impossible to predict.

A doctor will match their patient with a potential donor by comparing the proteins in each of your blood cells to see if they are similar. The more similar they are, the better the chance of the patient’s body accepting the transplant.

If your tissue type matches that of a patient in need of a bone marrow transplant, you will be contacted, so it’s important that you keep your contact information up-to-date and respond promptly, whether you intend on going through with the donation or not.

4. Participate in additional tests. Once you have been identified as a potential match for a given patient, you will be required to go through a series of additional tests and interviews to ascertain whether you are a suitable donor. You may need to provide a cheek swab or an additional blood sample, if they do not have a previous sample available.

For instance, you will need to be tested for any infectious or genetic diseases which could be passed onto the patient through the donated stem cells. You will also need to provide a detailed family history and undergo a physical examination to ensure that you are fit to go through with the donation procedure.

You will also be required to attend an information session, where you will be filled in on the exact nature of the donation procedure and given detailed descriptions of the recovery process and the possible risks and side effects. Any questions or concerns you might have can be addressed during this information session. If you are still willing to go through with the donation, you will be asked to sign a consent form.

Be aware that it may take up to 60 days for the doctor to review all of the health information necessary to make a decision regarding the donation. Once he/she has done this, they will be able to inform you which type of donation you will be required to make — bone marrow or PBSC.