What happens when you send your swabs back to DKMS?
• Our lab analyzes your tissue type: Your cheek cells are tested for HLA tissue markers.
• HLA = Human Leukocyte Antigens, or characteristics of human white blood cells. These protein ‘markers’ are found on most cells in your body.
• There is a great diversity of HLA and the cheek swab is currently tested for up to 12 characteristics.
• Your immune system uses HLA markers to determine which cells belong in your body and which do not.
• The best transplant outcomes occur when the patient’ s and donor’s HLA closely match.
• Once HLA markers are identified, your tissue type is entered anonymously into the US national bone marrow donor registry – “the lifesaver list” -- and assigned a donor number. The database is linked to global registries, searchable for any patient around the world.
What it means to be on the registry:
• Once you're on the registry, you are on standby to save a life. That's awesome! Be ready to donate, and willing to donate to any patient in need.
Will you become a match for a patient?
You could be called as a potential match within weeks of registering. Or, perhaps it will take years. There is a chance that you may never be called, but if you do get called, there is a good chance you are the ONLY one who can save that patient’s life.
On average, less than 1% of people on the registry will actually donate to a patient.
More about HLA
• You inherit half of your HLA markers from your mother and half from your father. This means you and your sibling have a 25% chance of having exactly the same HLA characteristics.
• This also means that most patients – about 7 out of 10 -- are unable to have a donation from a sibling, and an unrelated donor is required. This donor should ideally be a perfect HLA match.
• The more people who register, the better the chances for patients who are waiting for their lifesaving match.
This is why YOUR registration matters so much!