Join a community of over 41 million donors
Several types of life threatening blood cancer and a few other genetic disorders, like sickle cell disease, can be fully cured by a blood stem cell, marrow or cord blood transplantation if a suitable donor can be found. Although there are already many donors, there is still a need for more, because for 40% of patients we are unable to find a matched donor, especially for patients with mixed-race or from ethnic minorities suitable donors are lacking. Becoming a donor is relatively easy and you will be joining the millions of donors already registered.
Join us and become part of a community of donors that make a difference in the world. Use the tool below to check your eligibility and to find the local organization in your country to get started. You might be the life-saving donor a patient in need is desperately hoping for!
Why become a donor?
Stem cell donation can be a life-saving gift for someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder. By donating your stem cells, you could be the match that gives a patient a second chance at life. Although there are already many donors, there is still a need for more. For 40% of patients, we are not able to find a matched donor, especially for patients from ethnic minorities or with mixed-race heritage, where suitable donors are lacking.
How to become a donor?
Becoming a donor is relatively easy and you will be joining the millions of donors already registered. If you meet the criteria, you can register with one of the national organisations. It may take weeks, months or even years before you are found to be the one match for a patient in need. When you are found to be a match, you will be contacted by the registry. If you are medically cleared to donate and willing to proceed, you will be asked to donate your stem cells, which can be collected from your bloodstream or pelvis. Your donated stem cells will then be transported to the patient and infused into their body.
(collected from the pelvis)
The pelvis contains the largest number of blood stem cells. For this reason, cells from the cavity in the pelvic bone are used for a bone marrow donation.
(collected from the blood stream)
Normally, only very few stem cells are found in the blood. Hormone-like substances called growth factors can be given to blood stem cell donors a few days before the collection. This causes their blood stem cells to grow faster and to move from the bone marrow into the blood stream. Peripheral blood is collected from adult donors.
Umbilical cord blood
(collected from the placenta and umbilical cord)
After a baby is born, the blood that is left behind in the placenta and umbilical cord (known as cord blood) can be collected. It is then frozen and stored until required for transplantation.
There are several criteria that may affect your eligibility to become a donor, such as your age, weight, health, and where you live. For example, not every country has an established network for recruiting donors. You can check if your country has a network for donor recruitment on the map below. In general, most countries allow donors between the ages of 18-60, and have weight criteria (a BMI of no greater than 40kg/m2 is considered acceptable). If you have been diagnosed with a chronic disease or a blood disorder, you may not be eligible to donate.
Registering to become a stem cell donor is a simple and selfless act that could make a world of difference to someone in need. Join our global movement and become a donor today.
Safety of donation
At WMDA, the safety of both donors and patients is our top priority. We ensure that the donation process is as safe as possible for everyone involved.
Bone marrow donation is a safe procedure that is carried out in an operating room. For a healthy individual, the risks of donating bone marrow are very low and are equivalent to the risks associated with any general anaesthetic. Donors may experience minor side effects such as nausea, bruising, or localised pain and discomfort, but these can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. If you have any questions or concerns about the donation process or potential risks, please consult your healthcare provider or contact your local transplant center.
Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation is a well-established and safe procedure that has been performed for many years. Donors receive daily injections of mobilising agents (granulocyte colony stimulating factor, G-CSF) for four consecutive days before donation to increase the number of stem cells in their blood. While the majority of donors experience only minor side effects such as bone pain or flu-like symptoms, serious complications are very rare, occurring in less than 1% of donors. Most side effects can be easily managed with medication and typically disappear shortly after donation. In some cases, a central venous line may need to be inserted if a donor’s arm veins are not suitable for donation. This procedure is only done with the donor’s informed consent and after they have been fully informed of the potential risks.
WMDA is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of both donors and patients. We have established a committee consisting of doctors, cord blood experts, and legal advisors who evaluate any serious adverse events or reactions related to the donation and transfusion of blood stem cells. Furthermore, most registries collect data on the health of donors following donation, and to date, we are not aware of any long-term complications directly associated with G-CSF injections.