How ancestry and age play a role in matching patients with a bone marrow donor.
You registered. You received your kit. You swabbed! Now, what do you do? You wait. And for some of you wondering ‘what are my chances of being someone’s lifesaver?’, here is some more information on your likelihood of being called to be a bone marrow/blood stem cell donor.
The most important factors of being matched with a patient are ethnicity and age.
Your ancestry determines your HLA or your tissue typing. This is why patients are most likely to match someone of the same ethnic background. Adding more members who increase the ethnic diversity of the donor pool increases the variety of tissue types available.
Like ancestry, age is just as important in the donor search. Registrants are kept on the DKMS database until their 61st birthday. However, doctors request donors in the 18 to 44 age group more than 90% of the time. Research shows that younger donors provide the greatest chance for transplant success. That doesn’t mean that if you are older and are a match to be a lifesaver, you will not get a call. If you are the best match for a patient, you will be called.
At DKMS you could be called as a potential match just within weeks of registering or years later.
When learning that you are a potential match, please consider your decision to donate with the highest degree of seriousness. Donation success strongly depends on both your health and the health of the patient. There is a risk that the patient’s health may take a turn which can delay or even rule out any donation. Rest assured, DKMS will always keep you informed about any changes and will accommodate you to the best of our abilities.