Without the kindness of a single person my husband would not be alive. This is the case for many blood cancer patients that depend on life-saving stem cell transplants for a cure. Aside from blood cancers, there are many other diseases that are treatable with bone marrow transplants. Click here to learn more.
Stem cell matching is much more complicated than blood matching. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing is used to match a patient with a donor for their bone marrow transplant. This is not the same as ABO blood typing. HLA is a protein – or marker – found on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses HLA markers to know which cells belong in your body and which do not. Doctors look for a donor with a close human leukocyte antigens (HLA) match to the patient. This close HLA match is the most important factor in finding the best donor for a patient.
The first choice for a bone marrow transplant is to use a matched sibling donor; about 30% of patients have a suitable donor in their family. This leaves the other 70% of patients to rely on Be The Match (the U.S. national bone marrow registry) and other registries around the world to find an unrelated donor.
A patient’s likelihood of finding a donor match on Be The Match ranges from 66% to 97%, depending on ethnic background. Even with a registry of millions, many patients cannot find a match. Because the markers used in matching are inherited, patients are most likely to match someone of the same ethnic ancestry.
Some ethnic groups have more complex tissue types than others. This is especially true for people who identify as multiracial. Adding more potential donors to increase the ethnic diversity of the registry remains an important focus for Be The Match.
Save a life and join today!