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Why must I pay a fee to join the registry if I'm 36 or older?

May 04, 2023 by Gift of Life News

Joining the registry for the chance to become a stem cell or bone marrow donor is exciting: it’s an opportunity to save someone’s life and do something good. 

However, when someone 36 or older wants to join the registry, we ask them to offset the $60 laboratory processing cost of their swab kit for both medical and financial reasons. 

Medical fact: Donors aged 18 to 35 are requested for 90% of blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants

In the more than 65-year history of marrow transplantation, one medical fact stands out: transplants from younger donors are more successful for patients, producing a better outcome. Today, 90% of requests from transplant centers are for donors under the age of 35, with a significant majority of donors requested being under age 30. 

Doctors want to give their patients the best possible chance of surviving blood cancer or curing an inherited immune disorder, and it is well-established that younger donors produce more stem cells, have more robust stem cells, and are typically healthier than older donors. Transpants from younger donors are simply more likely to be successful for a patient's long-term survival.

Those interested in statistics about peripheral blood stem cell and bone marrow transplantation can visit the website for the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR).

Registry fact: many countries have lowered the allowable age for donors

Because the medical need for donors aged 18 to 30 is high, many countries are lowering the age limit for joining their registries. The United Kingdom limits registrants to 30 and under, Canada restricts donors to 35 and under, and Australia’s age limit is 40. 

The United States has chosen to maintain the policy of accepting donors up to 60 years old – but donors graduate from the registry on their 61st birthday.  

Financial fact: Our priority is saving lives, so we focus on younger donors 

Gift of Life Marrow Registry is a non-profit organization. We receive no government funding and rely on the support of foundations and individuals to perform our mission of saving lives. We have a responsibility to our financial supporters to make the best use of the money contributed to us – and the medical evidence tells us to focus on younger donors. 

Therefore, we request that everyone 36 years and older who wishes to join the registry contribute the cost of laboratory processing for the swab kit so that funds contributed by other supporters can be used for those donors most likely to be called for transplant.