By joining the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR), there’s a chance that you could one day be matched with someone who needs your specific blood stem cells to survive. That’s a truly powerful thing.
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 makes 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 means a blood stem cell transplant from a complete stranger (like you) could be the only hope for 70% of patients.
Who we're looking for
You can join the registry if you’re aged 18-35 and in good health (and meet a few other eligibility checks). You’ll be able to double check that you’re able to donate when you join.
Unlike blood donation, there’s scientific evidence that younger people make the most successful bone marrow donors for patients. So, we need as many 18-30 year-olds as possible to register and increase their chances of finding the best possible match.
The ABMDR is looking for donors from all different ethnicities to put their names down. Ethnic diversity is 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 about bone marrow donation. You can fill out an ABMDR enrolment form, and give a small blood sample at the same time as your blood donation. We’ll be able to check your tissue type from your sample.
Then we'll contact you*
Your tissue type is put into an international database, and we contact you if you’re a match.
Our Australian database is linked to the worldwide registries (but your identity is kept private). When a patient anywhere in the world needs a transplant, the registries are checked for a matching donor. If that’s you, you may be able to save a life.
*You’ll only hear from us if you’re a match — only 1 in 1,500 potential Aussie donors are asked to donate in a year.
How does bone marrow donation work?
There are two ways to give blood stem cells. For 9 out of 10 people, it’s just like a plasma donation, but in a hospital. For the rest it’s a short surgical procedure, which requires general anaesthesia, to take bone marrow from the back of your hip.
The patient’s doctor will request their preferred method, but it’s up to you and your doctor to make the final decision.
No matter how you do it, you’ll feel incredibly special knowing you’ve helped save someone’s life.