Marrow & blood Stem Cell Donation

Health Promotion
Public Health

What would you like to do?

What you need to know

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Join the Donor Registry

Thousands of people with blood cancers and other diseases - like sickle cell anemia - need a marrow or blood stem cell transplant to survive. Most don't have a fully matched donor in their family. That's why donors are needed.

  • 70% of those needing a marrow transplant don't have a fully-matched donor in their family.
  • 12,000 people annually rely on transplants from someone outside their family.

Donating Marrow & Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC)

A blood stem cell transplant replaces a person's unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy ones.

Adults may be asked to donate one of two ways:

  • About 85% of the time, a person's doctor requests a PBSC donation - a non-surgical outpatient procedure similar to donating platelets or plasma.
  • About 15% of the time, doctors request marrow - a surgical, outpatient procedure that takes place at a hospital. General or regional anesthesia is always used.

Joining the Be The Match Registry

To join the Be The Match registry, people need to meet age and health guidelines and be willing to donate to any patient in need. Sign-up​ involves completing a digital registration and giving a swab of cheek cells.

People between the ages of 18 and 40 are most urgently needed since they are requested by transplant doctors more than 86% of the time, and research shows that these donors provide the greatest chance for transplant success.

People over the age of 41 can become a champion and those age 18 or under can pre-register. 

What Happens If You're Called to Donate?

 If you are called as a potential match for a person in need, you'll commit 20 to 30 hours spread over four to six weeks to:
  • ​Attend an information session
  • Attend appointments
  • Donate​

​Greater Need for Racial and Ethnic Minority Donors

Because genetic markers used in matching are inherited, donors are most likely to match someone who shares the same ethnic background. The likelihood of having a matched, available donor on the Be The Match registry ranges from 29% to 79% - depending on the ethnic background.​​

Odds of Finding a Match Based on Ethnic Background