Saving Lives: How to Become a Registered Bone Marrow Donor

It all starts with a simple swab of your cheek. Being a registered bone marrow donor is a simple and rewarding way to potentially save someone’s life. Why not start the journey today?

Ultimately, the process of becoming a registered bone marrow donor is easy and involves just a few steps. First, you must be willing to make an altruistic commitment to donate your bone marrow if it matches with that of a patient in need. You can help by signing up to be part of the world’s largest pool of registered bone marrow donors.

Once you have made your commitment, you will need to complete a medical questionnaire and provide a blood sample or cheek swab for testing. This helps ensure that you are medically fit to donate and that it is safe to use your bone marrow when the time comes. This step is absolutely necessary for all donors, as it helps guarantee that donating bone marrow does not cause issues for the recipient.

However, it generally starts with nothing but a swab. Then, you’ll undergo a blood test if you’re called as a potential match. If you’re a close match, you’ll proceed to the next step of your donation.

The Donation Process

Donating bone marrow is usually done in two ways: peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, and bone marrow harvest. In either case, the procedure is conducted in a hospital or clinic under general anesthesia.

PBSC Donation – In this method, the donor takes medication for five days before donating to raise the number of stem cells in the bloodstream. The process involves hooking up the donor to a machine that removes blood from one arm, separates the stem cells, and returns the rest of the blood to the body through the other arm. The whole process takes about five hours with a full recovery time of one to two days.

Bone Marrow Harvest – During this method, liquid marrow is drawn from the back of the pelvic bone with a large needle. The procedure takes about an hour and can require an overnight hospital stay for observation. Full recovery time is usually four to five days, during which patients may experience pain or discomfort in the donor site area.

What is the difference between stem cell and bone marrow donations? Stem cell donations are peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donations, while bone marrow donations have traditionally been known as solid tissue donation. Both involve a minimally invasive procedure to extract the required material for donation, but due to newer technology, the donor’s stem cells can now be extracted from their blood instead of the marrow. While PBSC is more commonly used today, a marrow donation is still requested in some cases.

Joining an Online Registry

What is the process for becoming a donor? Potential donors must first complete an online form with a bone marrow transplant registry and this acts as an initial screening questionnaire. The form should include basic information about the donor’s age, ethnicity, and overall health.

Before any donation is given, a donor will be asked to undergo an additional health screening. During the health screening, a detailed medical and family history will be taken and donors may also need to provide blood samples. After the screening is complete, a donor will be contacted with information about the donation process, and if the donor passes all of these formalities, they can go ahead with the donation.

If you’re willing to undergo this selfless act, look for a reputable online registry today!