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How much does it cost to donate marrow or stem cells?

Jul 22, 2019 by Gift of Life News

When Doug Young (above, right) was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood cancer, only a stem cell transplant could save his life. Fortunately his matching donor, Timothy Hahn, had joined the registry only weeks before and was his perfect match. Nearly 100 diseases can be cured by a stem cell transplant, including leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell disease, and inherited immune disorders. Read Doug and Tim's story.


There is a persistent myth about donating blood stem cells or bone marrow that you will face either upfront or hidden costs. That is simply not true. Here is the real story!

Chapter 1: Swabbing and Joining the Registry

The donors that transplant centers request most often are young. As decades of research have shown, younger stem cells produce a better outcome for patients, so when possible, younger donors are usually requested. If you are between the ages of 18 and 35 and in general good health, there is no cost to swab your cheek and join the registry – contributions to our organization will pay for the lab testing of your swab kit.

Transplant centers are much less likely to ask those over age 35 to donate, so we ask that interested donors who are between the ages of 36 and 60 please offset the $60 lab fee needed to process their kit, so we can use our funds to process kits for those donors who are most likely to be called upon to donate. To read an entire article on this topic, just click here.

Chapter 2: I was called as a match. What will the blood test and medical exam cost?

Nothing! When Gift of Life calls you as a match, we’ll ask you to complete Confirmatory Typing. This is a blood test (taken at a lab local to you) to confirm that you are the best match for the patient. If you go on to the next step, Workup, you will receive a thorough medical exam to ensure that you are healthy and ready to donate. You will not pay anything. 

Chapter 3: I’m going to donate and save someone’s life! What costs can I expect for travel and accomodations?

None. There are no costs associated with donating. While you may need to travel to the collection center, Gift of Life will arrange travel and hotel, as well as provide a per diem allowance for meals. 

We do our best to look out for all our donors, and do our best to make sure you are comfortable and cared for while you are being a hero. You may not feel like a hero, but we sure think you are!

Chapter 4: Will Gift of Life Marrow Registry pay me for donating, or compensate me for time away from work?

Under federal regulations, no payment can be made to a donor for donating bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cells, or other organs or tissues.

Where lost wages are an obstacle to donation, we try to do our best to ensure that a donor will be able to be available to donate, on a case-by-case basis.

Some states require certain employers to offer either paid or unpaid leave for donors; check regulations in your state. Most workplaces are excited and responsive when they learn one of their employees has the opportunity to save a life, and some have a policy to give special PTO time to donors. Others allow fellow employees to give some amount of PTO time to their colleague.

There are many workplaces who host donor recruitment drives to show support for employees who join the registry, so if you’d like to “Swab At Your Job,” just let us know.

Epilogue: You’ll not only change someone else’s life, you’ll change your own

You don’t have to pay to be a donor, and you can’t be paid to donate either, but the experience is much bigger than all that. Just listen to what our marrow and blood stem cell donors have to say. Click on their names to read their stories.


"Bone marrow donation is not scary, it really isn’t. I traded a day off work to save a three-year-old kid’s life."  —Graeme Ossey

"You, and everyone around you, has power – the real power to save a life. This is a life changing experience. Regardless of how it happens, you will never be the same." —Jon Kayne

“I feel that I have a purpose in life, and that includes being a match for sweet little Lola. I want her to know that I care about her and will do whatever I can to help her for the duration of both our lives.” —Holly Chislow

“As soon as I understood what was needed, I was excited to move forward. It was a great moment of human purpose. I don’t think I could have looked at myself in the mirror afterward if I didn’t do it.” —Thomas Koerner

“Donating stem cells is one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, one I will be proud to share with my children and grandchildren.” —Abraham Zilkha

“When you get involved with Gift of Life you may think your contribution is small, however, your small act of kindness has the potential of turning into something truly significant.” —Noah Starr

“I am so happy I could help my recipient, Julio. I would donate a million times over if I could.” —Ryan Corning