Medical File: Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Donation

Medical File: Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Donation
01 October 2018
How to donate, and why you should do so

You may be a regular blood donor, but did you know you can donate bone marrow too? Here’s why it’s important.

Bone marrow and stem cell donation is an important health intervention. By signing up to donate your bone marrow and stem cells, you could save a life and help those recovering from disease, infection, or invasive medical treatments. Bone marrow and stem cell donations help patients recovering from chemotherapy, blood diseases, serious infections, leukaemia, and more. While a family member can potentially be a match, there is just a 25% chance of this being a viable match. The process of identifying a suitably matched, unrelated, bone marrow donor is complex, and the chance of finding a match for a patient is just 1/100000.

Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Donation in South Africa
In South Africa, there are two donor registries: these are operated through The South African Bone Marrow Registry (SAMBR) and The Sunflower Fund. If you are interested in becoming a bone marrow or stem cell donor, you can choose which registry to join. It’s important to note that registering on both goes against international protocol, as this can lead to donor duplication and confusion, sometimes delaying the process administratively when a donor match is found.

South African Bone Marrow Registry
In South Africa, the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SAMBR) manages a donation and transplant process, helping individuals find a match and extend their quality of life. Through its operations, the SAMBR works to match volunteer bone marrow donors with people whose only chance of survival is a bone marrow transplant.

The Sunflower Fund
The Sunflower Fund is a donor recruitment registry, that’s keenly focused on donor drives and supporting patients who are undergoing the transplant process.

Can I be a bone marrow and stem cell donor?
If you’d like to sign up to be a bone marrow and stem cell donor, it’s important to know whether or not you’re eligible. If you:  

  • Weigh more than 50 kilograms
  • Are between the ages of 18 and 45
  • Have a BMI of less than 40
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle
  • Are not HIV or HTLV positive

Then you may be eligible! The SABMR outlines their exclusion criteria for potential donors here and The Sunflower Fund lists their exclusion criteria here.

LifeDoc Can Help
If you’re keen to become a bone marrow and stem cell donor, chat to your doctor about your health and lifestyle, to ensure you’re eligible. LifeDoc ™ can help. LifeDoc ™ helps you take charge of your personal health information, making it easier to keep track of appointments and schedule those important check-ups, while securely storing your personal medical history. Register here or like the LifeDoc™ Facebook page for regular updates. You can also stay on track with LifeDoc™ developments on Twitter.