Become a Donor
To Register as a bone marrow donor or find a donor drive near you please visit the DKMS website at www.dkmsamericas.org
Frequently Asked Questions
• What is DKMS?
DKMS – short for Deutsche
Knochenmarkspenderdatei (German for Bone Marrow Donor Center) - is the
world’s largest marrow donor center with more than 1.8 million
registered marrow donors.
• Why is there a need for bone marrow donors?
- Each year more than 140,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers
Leukemia is the most common disease children in the U.S die of, and a
bone marrow transplant may be their only hope for a second chance at
- Only 3 out of every 10 patients will receive the transplant that could save their lives
• What is a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant?
A bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant is a potentially
life-saving treatment for people with leukemia, lymphoma and other
blood cancers. A transplant replaces a patient’s unhealthy blood cells
with healthy blood cells from their donor.
• How do I register to become a bone marrow donor?
1. You must be between the ages of 18 and 55 and meet the eligibility requirements.
2. You need to complete a registration form.
Then, a collection of cheek cells using a cotton-tipped swab is taken
and sent to a lab to be tested to determine your tissue type.
Your data is then entered into the National Registry NMDP) in
anonymous form, so doctors can search for a donor for their
patient(s). You are listed on the National Registry until your 61st
birthday, unless you asked to be removed.
YOUR INFORMATION IS CONFIDENTIAL
• What are the basic eligibility requirements to register as a bone marrow donor?
- Be between the ages of 18 and 55
- Be in good general health
- Not be HIV positive or at risk for AIDS
- Not have severe heart disease
- Not have a history of cancer *
- Not have severe asthma (daily inhalers are acceptable)
- Not have diabetes requiring insulin
- Not have hepatitis
- Not have epilepsy
- Not have chronic or severe back problems or surgery
- Not have autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis
*Cervical, breast and bladder cancer (stage 0,) and cured skin cancer are acceptable
• Is there a cost associated with registering as a bone marrow donor?
costs $65 to type one person’s tissue. DKMS does not require the donor
to cover the typing fee; however we do rely on the support of
individuals and corporations to help with this cost.
Any contribution you make to pay for tissue-typing costs is greatly appreciated and is tax deductible.
• What is my commitment if I register?
When you register as a potential life-saving bone marrow donor, you make a voluntary commitment to:
- Be listed on the National Registry until your 61st birthday, unless you ask to be
- Consider donating to any searching patient who matches your tissue type
Keep DKMS updated if any of your contact information changes, you have
significant health changes or you change your mind about being a marrow
- Respond quickly if your are contacted as a potential
match for a patient, as you might be the only person to help save their
You have the right to change your mind about being a marrow donor at any time.
is always voluntary. However, if you decide you no longer want to be
registered marrow donor, let DKMS know right away. That way we can
continue the search for another donor without dangerous — even
life-threatening — delays for the patient.
• How are patients matched with donors?
A cheek cell sample is collected upon registering. Then, the sample
is tested for the DNA tissue type and added to the National Registry
(NMDP), so Doctors can search for a donor to match their patient (s).
• What is Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing?
leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing is a DNA based tissue test to match
patients and donors for bone marrow transplants (BMT). HLA are proteins
— or markers — found on most cells in your body. Your immune system
uses these markers to recognize which cells belong in your body and
which do not.
A close match between your HLA markers and your
donor's can reduce the risk that your immune cells will reject your
donor's cells or that your donor's immune cells will reject your body
after the transplant.
• How does a person’s race or ethnicity affect matching?
Tissue type is inherited and therefore patients are more likely to
match someone of their own race and ethnicity. Currently, there is a
great need to recruit more donors who identify themselves as Black or
African American, American Indian or Native Alaskan, Asian, Hawaiian or
Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino, due to more varied tissue
characteristics. Adding more diverse donors increases the likelihood
that all patients will find a life-saving match.
• How are blood stem cells collected?
Once you have been identified as a marrow donor there are two ways - both outpatient procedures - you can “GIVE LIFE”:
1. Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) (Approximately 70%-80% of collections are performed this way)
This procedure, called apheresis, involves receiving daily medication for four to five
before the collection to increase blood stem cells in the bloodstream.
The donor’s blood is removed from one arm, passed through a machine
that separates out the cells used in transplant, and returned through
the other arm.
2. Bone Marrow (Approximately 20%-30% of collections are performed this way)
collect the cells, with a special needle, from the pelvic bone where a
small amount of marrow (containing stem cells) is extracted. This is a
surgical procedure done under general or local anesthesia so the donor
does not experience pain during the collection process.
• What are potential side effects?
Bone marrow donors can expect to feel some soreness in their lower
back for a few days or longer. Some donors have reported feeling
tired, but most donors are back to their normal routine in a few days.
PBSC donors report varying symptoms which might include headaches,
bone or muscle pain, nausea, insomnia, fatigue or flu-like symptoms
while receiving injections. These effects disappear shortly after the
• What is the likelihood that I will be called as a match?
a patient is a rare opportunity to help save a life. We cannot predict
an individual’s likelihood because there is so much diversity in tissue
types. If your tissue type is common, you may be more likely to match a
patient, but there will also be more potential donors. If your
tissue type is uncommon or rare, you may never match; or, you may be
the only match for a patient with the same, rare tissue type. On
average, about one in 130 DKMS donors will go on to donate. The
important thing is to be committed to helping any patient if and when
the need does arise.
• Can I get tested for a specific patient or family member?
you register as a potential donor, you make a commitment to consider
donating to any patient who is searching for their genetic twin. As a
volunteer, you are never under any legal obligation to donate and your
decision is always respected. However, a late decision not to donate
can be life-threatening to a patient, therefore we ask that you to
think seriously about the commitment involved before deciding to
register as a donor.
Note: You can request a copy of your own
tissue typing results after you join the NMDP Registry. However, if you
want to be tested only for a specific patient, you will need to have
your tissue typing test done privately. You can contact the patient's
transplant center or transplant doctor for more information.
More info about bone marrow donation...
see this informative interview about how easy it is to become a bone marrow donor
click on the image to be brought to : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAhIj-V9lAY
watch this video to see donors talk about their experiences as bone marrow donors