Why are blood stem cells important?
It sounds a bit complicated, but it starts with bone marrow. That’s the soft tissue inside bones. It contains stem cells, which then make red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. If someone’s bone marrow gets damaged (like from leukaemia or a blood disorder), a stem cell transplant is often their only hope for a cure.
The problem? Stem cells have to be from a donor who closely matches the patient — and only 30% of patients have a match in their family. That leaves a lot of people whose only hope is a blood stem cell transplant from a complete stranger. A stranger like you.
Can I join through Lifeblood?
If you’re aged 18 to 35 and in good health, probably! You can join the registry via a small blood sample taken at the same time as your next donation. Just ask our friendly staff next time you're in centre.
In fact, if you can’t give blood, we may still be able to help you register. Give us a call on 13 14 95 to check your options.
Did you know?
There’s scientific evidence that younger males make the most successful blood stem cell donors for patients. So, we need as many 18-35 year-olds (males in particular), to register and increase the chances of finding the best possible match for the patient in need.
Ethnic diversity is also really important, because patients are more likely to find a match with a donor from the same ethnic background.
How to join
Donate blood first
Just book yourself in for a blood donation and ask our friendly staff about joining the registry once you arrive in centre. After filling out some details, you'll give a small blood sample at the same time as your blood donation. This will be tested and typed, and recorded on the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
If you're ever found to be a match, you'll be contacted by Strength to Give for next steps.
How does blood stem cell donation work?
For most blood stem cell donations (around 90%), it’s a lot like giving plasma with a couple extra steps.
First, donors get a short course of injections to make sure their body makes lots of stem cells. The stem cells are then separated from the rest of the blood in a similar way plasma is, just in a hospital.
For the other donations — usually when the patient is very young — the bone marrow itself is also needed. In those cases, the donor is given a general anaesthetic in a hospital and a needle into the back of the hip.
All donations are safe to do, and you’ll always feel incredibly special knowing you helped save someone’s life.
To find out more, check out Strength to Give.