It’s really quite simple to register to become a potential donor.
Registering means filling out a simple form and providing a saliva sample via a cheek swab. If you are found to be a match, the donation procedure is usually very similar to giving blood.
How do I know if I’m eligible to be a donor?
To register to be a potential donor you have to be:
- 17 to 55
- In good health
- At least 4”10 and weigh more than 110 pounds
- Not exceed a BMI of 40
- Not have a chronic illness or belong to a risk group.
There may be specific eligibility requirements depending on the organisation you join with, Race Against Blood Cancer connect with the Delete Blood Cancer database who are aligned with the requirements above. Initially, all that is needed is a small saliva sample or blood sample to register your tissue type details onto a confidential database. If you match with a patient you will be selected for further testing to determine whether you would be suitable to actually donate stem cells.
There are two ways to donate; what’s the difference between a stem cell and bone marrow donation?
Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation and bone barrow donation are the two main ways to become a donor.
- Donating stem cells (PBSC) is a lot like donating blood and is the method used 90% of the time to save a patient’s life
- The bone marrow process is a minor surgical procedure, which is done using general anaesthetic.
Can I choose how I donate?
You cannot choose how you donate, this is selected by the patient’s doctor dependent on what they feel is most appropriate. However, bone marrow donations are a lot less common these days with 90% of donors donating stem cell via the PBSC method described above. The PBSC process is very similar to giving blood.
Tell me more about the actual donation process?
After you’ve registered, you may one day be matched with a patient in need and have the opportunity to save their life. If this is the case you will be contacted by the bone marrow and stem cell database you have registered with or a partner organisation, this could be Delete Blood Cancer, Anthony Nolan or NHS in the UK, or BeTheMatch registry in the USA. You will be contacted by the donor registry directly, not by Race Against Blood Cancer.
After you have agreed to become a donor to the patient in need, the process involves several steps that ensure the donation is safe for you, and the patient, including;
- Undergo a physical exam and provide blood samples. You will have a physical exam to ensure there is no risk to you or the patient and to ensure you’re a suitable donor.
- Updating your health information; you will be asked to confirm your commitment to donate, and complete a thorough health questionnaire.
- Participate in an information session; an information session explaining the details about the two methods of donation will explain to you the process of marrow or PBSC. This session is designed to inform the donor about donation.
- Donate; after successfully completing the above steps, you will proceed with donating peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) or bone marrow.
Your commitment could be someone’s cure. It’s a truly special journey.
Is it painful? Are there side effects?
The donation process is often compared to donating blood. The physical exam is conducted to ensure there are no risks posed to you or the patient. Donors typically don’t find the process painful. Any mild discomfort experienced tends to alleviate very quickly and the donor is left with a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment.
What are the chances you will get called to donate?
You could be called as a potential match within weeks of registering, it may also take a couple of years. There’s a chance you will never get called but if you are one of the lucky ones, it could well be that you are the only person in the world that can save a patient’s life.
It’s a truly amazing feeling to have that unique connection with someone that can be saved with your donation, knowing that there is that very special connection between you, as the donor, and the patient.
Join the donor register today via the links below…
What is a risk group?
If you suffer from one of the following diseases or you belong to a one of the following risk groups, unfortunately you will be unable to register:
- Heart diseases (e.g. previous heart attack, coronary heart disease)
- Lung diseases (e.g. severe bronchial asthma)
- Diseases of the haematopoietic system
- Severe kidney diseases
- Severe illnesses of the central nervous system
- Metabolic diseases (e.g. Diabetes Mellitus requiring treatment)
- Autoimmune conditions (e.g. rheumatism, Multiple Sclerosis)
- Severe infectious diseases, (e.g. HIV or AIDS, Hepatitis C, chronic Hepatitis B)
If you still want to help, you can donate financially or volunteer to help us drive donor sign ups.