The factors used to match donors with patients are inherited, similar to how hair and eye color are inherited from our parents and ancestors. This means the best chance of finding a match is between two people who share ethnicity or genetic heritage. There is an urgent need to diversify the registry, so all patients can find a lifesaving donor when one is needed. Currently, many ethnic groups are underrepresented, making it difficult to find matches. No matter your ethnic background, we encourage you to join the registry, as you could have the amazing opportunity to save someone's life.
Maxine is just 13 years old and urgently needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life. This transplant has the potential to cure the rare condition she is battling, Severe Aplastic Anemia. But for the transplant to work, Maxine must find a matching donor, and matches are based on a tissue type called HLA, Human Leukocyte Antigens. These are inherited from our parents and ancestors, so the best chance of a match is with someone of similar ancestry. Maxine is of Korean-French and American ancestry, so her match is more likely to be someone who has Korean-American or Korean-European heritage. To learn more about Maxine, click here.
Anyone 18 to 35 years old and in general good health can join the registry by completing a cheek swab kit at an in-person drive or by ordering a kit sent to your home. Complete a short questionnaire, swab inside your cheeks, and return the kit – simple! There is no cost to donate, and your personal information is held in strictest confidence under the same HIPAA regulations that apply to your doctor's office.
If you are ever a match for a patient, Gift of Life will call and email you to let you know you have the chance to save someone's life.
There are two methods of donating, Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation, and Bone Marrow donation. A PBSC donation is similar to donating blood platelets. An apheresis machine will collect the needed cells from your circulating blood, then the remaining blood is returned to you. More than 90% of transplants use the PBSC method. Most donors feel fully recovered the next day.
Bone marrow donation is an outpatient procedure at a hospital that takes about two hours. The donor is under general anesthesia, and marrow is extracted from the hip bone using a needle. This procedure is most often used to help children fighting blood cancer and other life-threatening diseases, and accounts for less than 10% of transplants. Donors are discharged after recovering from anesthesia and typically are able to return to work within 48 hours. Some donors experience a backache for a few days.
Your stem cells and bone marrow will grow back on their own in a matter of weeks.
To join the registry, click the orange button, and give hope to thousands of patients who are waiting to hear those miraculous words, "Your donor has been found."