The search process is activated immediately BMDP receives a request for the transplant centre containing the details of Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) markers of the patient. These HLA markers are found in almost every cell of the body and are used to identify a matching donor for each patient. The new blood stem cells can be donated from someone else – either from an adult donor’s blood or bone marrow or from umbilical cord.
Once your medical team decides that a bone marrow transplant is the best treatment for a patient, they will usually check to see if there is a suitable donor among any brothers and sisters with the same parents. This will mean checking the HLA markers of each sibling and checking to see if any of them share the same tissue type as the patient. For any transplant to be successful, it is crucial for the tissue type of both individuals to be a full match. With our typically small families, less than one in three patients can ﬁnd this sibling match. The next step is to send a search request to the BMDP with the tissue type of the patient and we will then search the local donor register to see if we can identify a match among the volunteer donors who have signed up. We can only activate a search in response to a request from one of the transplant centres and all the results are forwarded to the medical teams in order for them to select and activate the best match for each individual patient. If no match can be identiﬁed locally, BMDP will automatically extend the search around the world through a consolidated global database of volunteer donors. It is important to know that the patient and their family do not need to contact friends and supporters in other countries to try to initiate a donor search.