Asked Questions & Answers
What exactly is a bone marrow transplant?
it is the replacement of diseased bone marrow
cells with cells from a healthy donor that are
transfused into a patient's veins through an
IV, just like a blood transfusion. Within
two to three weeks, the transplanted bone marrow
begins to produce normal blood cells in the patient.
Is bone marrow transplantation a new technique?
really. Ten years ago, they were done only as
a terminal blood cancer patient's last hope. Today,
thousands are performed every year at specially-approved
medical centers all over the world.
Which diseases can be treated?
long list-acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL),
acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), chronic myelogenous
leukemia (CML), lymphoma, aplastic anemia, severe
combined immune deficiency syndrome, sickle cell
anemia and radiation poisoning are only a few
of these blood diseases killing thousands of
children and adults every year.
What are the actual chances of finding a donor?
family member with matching bone marrow is best,
of course, but that's possible only 30% of the
time. Unrelated donors are now being called upon
when their tissue type, their human leukocyte
antigens (HLA), matches the patient's. The
chance that a patient will find a compatible,
unrelated donor varies widely, depending on the
patient's tissue type. Because tissue types
are inherited, and some tissue types are unique
to certain ethnic groups, a patient's best chance
of finding a match is within his or her own ethnic
And that's why you need to find many donors?
a word, YES! Which is why we desperately need
the help of caring people like yourself.
Who can become a donor?
must be between 18 to 60 years old; have no history
of hepatitis, heart disease, cancer or AIDS;
possess a positive attitude and pride in wanting
to become a donor; and sign a standard consent
form allowing The Registry to include your HLA
tissue type, discreetly maintained at all times,
in out confidential, computerized files for future
It takes only a simple blood test to start?
the consent form is signed, YES. It's that simple.
Can I be a donor for a specific patient only?
Not through the Registry. You will have
to go to your own physician and have your HLA
A & B done by an outside lab.
Can civic and religious groups sponsor a drive?
bet! Many already have. We shall be happy
to provide information and discuss the details.
What about the firm where I work?
always looking for corporations to sponsor their
caring employees, people eager to help others
in need, fighting a deadly disease.
What do I do first to become a donor?
already taken the first step by learning about
bone marrow transplant. Now, simply fill out
the printable forms and mail back to us or call
us at 1-800-336-3363.
It's that easy!
What happens if I am a match?
you are found to be a possible match with a patient
needing a transplant, we will contact you immediately,
inform you of the possible match and give you
the option of proceeding to a second blood test
to ensure final HLA compatibility with the patient.
(This test authorized only by the patient's physician,
is paid for by the patient or his medical insurance
plan.) Then, if there is a confirmed match,
the transplant can be scheduled, but only with
your legal consent, given after in depth counseling
and explanation. And then we cry real tears
Now tell me how my bone marrow is extracted?
the proper term is 'harvested'. First,
you are given a general or spinal anesthesia. Second,
only 2% to 3% of your marrow is harvested from
your hip area through specially-designed, sterile
needles. (In case you didn't know, bone marrow
looks like healthy blood, a fluid, nothing bony
or solid.) And third, you are usually released
from the hospital after a day of tender loving
Does it hurt?
would be lying if we said 'No.' In truth,
it's more like a 'poke in the hip,' and other
than some residual soreness that can last for
a few days, it's nothing compared to what the
patient's options would be without the transplant.
Are there any risks?
than the remote chance of a reaction to anesthesia,
or an infection, the risks are minimal. This
will be explained to you in detail. On
the other hand, patients are at great risk. Before
receiving your marrow, they receive massive doses
of radiation to totally destroy their diseased
marrow, leaving them open to deadly infection.
What happens to the patient?
the transplant is successful, the new marrow
begins to produce normal, healthy blood cells
within two to three weeks. After the hospital
stay, the patient is treated as an out-patient
for several weeks and then returns home. The
patient has received the chance--of a lifetime.
Who pays the total cost to donate my marrow?
you--the patient or his medical insurance does. The
marrow is usually harvested at a collection center
convenient to you and hand-carried by a courier
to the patient's transplant center.
Can I withdraw as a donor at any time?
until the time you provide us with your final,
legal consent to proceed with the
transplant--YES! But we hope that you wouldn't want to change your
mind, as too
much is at stake for the patient needing your help.
Can I contract AIDS by being a donor?
can not contract the AIDS virus by becoming a
bone marrow donor.
For your information, please read the following facts about the AIDS virus.
If you are in one or more of the risk groups for the AIDS virus (listed below)
or have had sex with someone who is, YOU MAY NOT BE A BONE MARROW DONOR,
for it becomes a risk to the patient.
AIDS... RISK GROUPS
and women who are now or have been prostitutes
at any time since 1977 and persons who
have been with their sexual partners in
the past twelve months.
man who has had sex with another man, even
one time, since 1977.
with hemophilia who have received clotting
with a positive HIV test or any symptoms
of AIDS such as unexplained and persistent:
fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss
or diarrhea; swollen lymph glands, white
patches in mouth, persistent dry cough
unrelated to smoking, severe tiredness
or shortness of breath, any unusual skin
rash, bruise, bump, swelling or skin discoloration.
AIDS THE FACTS
AIDS virus can be transmitted through blood.
donating marrow (on the third blood test),
the blood is tested for the HIV (AIDS)
antibodies. Any blood testing positive
HIV (AIDS) antibodies are found in your
blood you will be notified after the test
is confirmed. YOU WILL NOT BE A BONE
person who is one or more of the risk groups
listed must not sign up as a voluntary
bone marrow donor.
can take up to twelve weeks or longer after
AIDS infection before antibodies can be
detected by a test. If there is any
chance you have been exposed to the virus,
DO NOT SIGN UP, IT COULD HARM THE PATIENT.