How to Become a Bone Marrow Donor

Be the Match

This is National Marrow Awareness Month. Each year, 10,000 of cancer patients need a bone marrow transplant.* Unfortunately, only half of those patients get one due to a variety of issues, including donor availability.

A bone marrow transplant is a life-saving treatment for people with leukemia, lymphoma and many other blood cancers. First these patients undergo chemotherapy and sometimes radiation to destroy their diseased marrow. Then a donor's healthy blood-forming cells are delivered directly into the patient's bloodstream where they can begin to function and multiply.

The need for marrow donors is great. Patients need donors who are a genetic match and even with a registry of millions, many patients cannot find a match. Donors with diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds are especially needed.

The good news is that registering to become a bone marrow donor is easy.

To become a marrow donor, visit Be the Match Registry ®, of the National Donor Marrow Program. Complete the questionnaire, and register to receive your donation kit.

The donation kit includes instructions and materials to collect a swab of your cheek cells.

The commitment to donate is very important, but if you match a patient you have the right to change your mind before the donation. However, a late decision to not donate can be life threatening to a patient. Please think seriously about your commitment before joining the registry.

Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation at the Abramson Cancer Center

Abramson Cancer Center’s bone marrow and stem cell transplant clinicians and researchers have led the way nationally for years; both in the care of patients undergoing transplant and in the research of bone marrow transplant as a cancer treatment. Penn has one of the oldest and largest programs in the country and the team is putting that experience to work to offer the best possible treatment outcomes.

Today, there's more hope than ever for those who face a cancer diagnosis in which bone marrow or stem cell transplant is a treatment option.

*Statistic from National Marrow Donation Program

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The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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