Donate for a family member
When a patient undergoes an allogeneic transplant, the healthy stem cells used in transplantation are donated from another person.
This donor is selected on the basis of how well his or her Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matches that of the patient.
Your HLA type is inherited from your parents: one half from your mother and one half from your father. Just as you and your siblings may have inherited similar features, such as hair or eye color, you may also have inherited the same HLA type. The likelihood of finding an HLA
match with a family member is approximately 25 to 30 percent.
The first step in searching for a donor for a patient is for family members of the patient to get HLA typed. The patient’s doctor will let the patient know which family members should be HLA typed and when this should happen.
To do this, we will begin with a cheek swab to collect a tissue sample to analyze. It may also be done by taking a sample of blood. Typing includes:
- Serological typing, which is a broad definition of your bone marrow type;
- Then, more specific typing is done using a DNA method
Your bone marrow "type" is designated by a series of 10 alpha-numeric combinations. There are millions of possible combinations.
If you are found to be an HLA match for your family member, you will begin the process to become a donor. A donor coordinator from our team will work with you throughout the process, which includes:
- Medical testing to ensure it is safe for you to donate
Our donor coordinators will also work with you to ensure you understand the commitment you are making as a donor, helping you locate resources including access to a pharmacy, psychosocial services, and other important programs.
If a family member is not a match for the patient, then a search will be performed to find an unrelated, volunteer donor.
If you were tested for a family member and not found to be a match, you may wish to join the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Be The Match Registry, which is the largest, most diverse volunteer donor registry in the world. You will need to complete a consent form and obtain a copy of your HLA typing. To learn more about becoming a member of the Be The Match Registry, call Donor Services at 866-875-3324.