Blood cancer is the generic term for malignant diseases of the bone marrow or blood-forming system, in which normal blood formation is disturbed by the uncontrolled multiplication of malignant blood cells. Because of these cancer cells, the blood can no longer perform its vital tasks, such as fighting infections, transporting oxygen or stopping bleeding.
Curing blood cancer
Blood cancer patients can often only overcome the disease with the help of a stem cell donation from a suitable donor. In the case of leukaemia and malignant lymphomas, the transfer of healthy stem cells is even the only chance of a cure.
A series of malignant diseases in which there is a pathologically increased proliferation of immature and therefore non-functional white blood cells. Malignant lymphomas are divided into Hodgkin's disease (lymphogranulomatosis) and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (lymphatic leukaemia) according to their different characteristics.
Malignant alteration of lymphatic tissue with swelling of the lymph nodes and pathological enlargement of the spleen. Malignant lymphomas are divided according to their different characteristics into Hodgkin's disease (lymphogranulomatosis) and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (lymphatic leukemia), which originate from the lymph nodes.
How does the search for a bone marrow or blood stem cell donor work?
Looking for a matching stem cell donor is like looking for a needle in a haystack. When a blood cancer or blood disorder patient depends on a blood stem cell transplant to survive, they need a donor whose human leukocyte antigen (HLA) characteristics are a 100 percent match, if possible. The patient's medical team sends a search request to local and international databases. If a potential donor is found to match the patient, the donor center will be informed and the registered donor is contacted immediately.
Four-in-10 patients do not find a matching donor. That is why we need as many people as possible to register as donors.
Who can register as a potential blood stem cell donor?
If you are between the ages of 18 and 55-years-old and in general good health, then you may be able to register as a blood stem cell donor.
If you have previously registered with DKMS or another donor center, there is no need to do so again, as you will already be available for searches worldwide. If you have been diagnosed with any chronic or serious illnesses (whether current or in the past), please check with us before signing up.
The National Marrow Donor Program has established medical guidelines that we follow to protect the safety of the donor. The following medical conditions would prevent a person from registering as a donor or from being cleared to donate.
History of heart surgery or heart disease
Autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis
Sleep apnea, breathing problems or severe asthma (daily inhalers are acceptable)
Diabetes requiring insulin or injectable medication
Hepatitis B or C
Kidney or liver disease
History of stroke, including TIA
Multiple concussions or head injuries
Chronic or severe neck or back problems
Epilepsy or other seizure within one year
History of blood clotting or bleeding disorders
Personal history of cancer (exceptions: Stage 0 or in situ melanoma, breast, bladder, cervical and cured localized skin cancer such as basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma)
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.
What are the chances I'll get called to donate?
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 there is also the chance that, if you do get called, you are the ONLY one who can save that patient’s life.
"It's just amazing to me that I can live again. I have one more chance at living – to actually be able to do something." —Darian, transplant recipient and survivor