I Don’t Need to Be A Donor

False! Each year tens of thousands of patients diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia or lymphoma, are in need of a bone marrow transplant yet only half receive a transplant. Most blood cancers are treatable diseases. There just aren’t enough people in the registry to save the majority of them or at least give them a fighting chance. So many people say they never thought about becoming a donor until someone they knew needed a transplant. It is important for people to realize that this is a community issue on an international scale, and that if someone you knew needed a transplant, you would want others to help them too.

I’ll Never Be a Match

False! 1 in 430 members of the Be The Match Registry® (Registry in the United States) will go on to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells to a patient. Due to tissue diversity, there is no prediction of the likelihood of donation. You may never be identified as a match for someone OR you might be one of a number of potential matches. Either way, you may be the only one on the Registry who can save a particular patient’s life.

You Have to Give Blood to Join the National Registry

False! You do not have to draw an ounce of blood to join the Be The Match Registry®. You can registry online or at a local donor registry drive in your area. If ordered online, once you receive your buccal swab kit in the mail, you swab the four corners of your cheeks for cells and return the kit. Your DNA is tested and typed. All information is entered into the national database and just like that, you are a donor!

Click here to find out more about Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing.

I Can’t Donate Blood, So I Can’t Donate Marrow

Medical guidelines are in place to protect your health as a potential donor, as well as the health of transplant patients. Many factors may make a person medically ineligible to join Be The Match Registry®. These guidelines aren’t the same as blood donation guidelines and don’t include everything that could prevent you from donating bone marrow. If you’re a possible match for a patient, we’ll discuss your health history further and arrange a thorough physical exam. This is to ensure your safety and the patient’s safety.

Click here to read more about medical guidelines.

Marrow Donation Can Only Be From a Relative

False! Some patients are able to donate their own stem cells, a process called an autologous transplant. However, many patients, depending on their age, cancer type and overall health, require an allogeneic transplant for best results. (“allo” means other.) A patient’s brother or sister has a 30% chance of matching his or her siblings HLA type. When no siblings match, the patient will need a match from an unrelated donor. Minorities and people of mixed race have a harder time finding a match in the registry because fewer are represented. Because ethnic makeup determines who would be the best match, the Registry would benefit greatly from an increase in racial diversity.

Marrow Donation Has a Long Recovery Time

False! Marrow and PBSC donors should expect to return to work, school and most other activities within 1 to 7 days. Your marrow will return to normal levels within a few weeks. It’s important to note that bone marrow donor recovery times will vary depending on the individual and the type of donation.
Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation: The median time to full recovery for a PBSC donation is one week (seven days). Note: Median time is defined as the middle number in a range of numbers.

Bone Marrow Donation Recovery: The median time to full recovery for a marrow donation is 20 days. Note: Median time is defined as the middle number in a range of numbers.

Marrow Donation Is Expensive

False! All medical costs for the donation procedure are covered by the National Marrow Donor Program, which operates the Be The Match Registry®, or by the patient’s medical insurance, as are travel expenses and other non-medical costs. The only costs to the donor might be time taken off from work.

Becoming a Donor Will Take Too Much Time

False! While becoming a donor does require some time to fill out the paperwork and swab your cheek, it is much smaller of a time commitment than you think. Before you donate, there are several steps to make sure you are the best donor for the patient. These steps include an information session to provide resources to help you make your decision, as well as appointments for additional blood tests and a physical exam. The time needed for the actual donation depends on the donation procedure. On average, the entire process can take 30 to 40 hours, including travel time, over 4 to 6 weeks. Marrow and PBSC donation require about the same total time commitment.

Marrow Donation Hurts

False! Bone Marrow donation is done under general or regional anesthesia so the donor experiences no pain during the collection procedure. PBSC (Peripheral Blood Stem Cell) Donation is non-surgical and includes pre retrieval injections and blood retrieval through a needle. Discomfort and side effects vary from person to person and by procedure. Most marrow donors experience some side effects after donation. Common side effects of marrow donation include, but are not limited to:

  • Lower back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stiffness when walking
  • Bleeding at the collection site
Website Maintenance Services