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How to Get on the Bone Marrow Transplant List

Your bone marrow is comprised of cells that will eventually grow into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Your bone marrow can become compromised due to medical conditions, such as cancer. Treatments like chemotherapy can further damage, or even kill your bone marrow.

If you’re unable to receive an autologous transplant (using your own cells), or a syngeneic transplant (using cells from an identical twin), then the other option is an allogenic transplant. An allogenic transplant can use relatives such as a brother or sister as a donor. However, if you’re unable to use a family member, an outside donor is your last option. Your first step to getting on a donor list is through your physician.


How to Get on the Bone Marrow Transplant List

Bone Marrow Transplant List


1. Have your physician provide you with a bone marrow transplant team to help you understand the process of bone marrow transplantation, and what it entails.

This team would consist of a group of specialists, such as hematologists (specialists who deal with diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs) and oncologists (specialists who deal with cancerous tumors).


2. Since many bone marrow recipients cannot find a suitable donor through a family member, it is important to get on a registry.

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, you should request that your physician reach the National Marrow Donor Program to help you locate a donor.


3. Through the National Marrow Donor Program, your physician will need to conduct a search through the Be The Match Registry.

It is important for your physician to provide the registry with a sample of your human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type to provide you with the best possible match. Your HLA are part of your immune system.


4. Have your physician refer you to a transplant center.

A transplant center can also do searches and provide information for you on the best possible bone marrow matches. A transplant center will also need to conduct examinations to determine the stage of your disease in order to give you better treatment options.


5. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t be stressed about how to find a donor.

Your physician and transplant center team are responsible for your search and care.


6. You’ll need to keep in touch with both your physician and transplant center team during the transplant list process.

Once a match has been found, testing will be conducted to make sure that the donor is a perfect match.


Tips & Warnings

  • Read “Bone Marrow Transplants: A Book of Basics for Patients,” which will provide you with information on bone marrow transplants and what to expect. The book can be downloaded for free at cancerguide.org.
  • Get on a registry as soon as possible.
  • Try not to stress yourself out while trying to get on a list. You need to stay as healthy as possible during the whole process.
  • Keep in mind that finding a suitable donor match can take weeks or months.


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