Does a donor have to have the same blood type as the patient?
For blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants, what matters is the best possible match between the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue characteristics from the donor and patient. A perfect match is very complicated to find.
Doctors generally look at 10 specific HLA markers to determine a match. Most require at least a 9 out of 10 match, but a 10 out of 10 is best. The closer the match, the better the chances that the patient’s immune system will recognize donated cells as its own and allow them to grow and make new healthy blood cells. When blood stem cells are transplanted, the recipient acquires the same blood group as the donor.
Swabbing is the test used to see if you are a matching bone marrow donor for any patient in need. When you sign up, we send you a buccal swab kit, you swab your cheeks, then send it back to us. Once we receive it, it goes to our lab for processing and then you are added to the National Bone Marrow Registry. Once on the registry, you are put on standby until you are a match for a patient in need.