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Become a perfect match: join The Blood Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Donor Registry

If you’re reading this you probably already know how great it feels to donate blood and save lives. But did you know there’s another simple way to save lives? By joining The Blood Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

Every 40 minutes someone in Australia is diagnosed with blood cancer, and for many a blood stem cell transplant from a complete stranger is their only hope.

Donors need to be specifically matched to the patient, which makes it tricky to find a donor for patients with rare tissue types. Joining the register is quick and easy, and the more people that join the better chances patients have of finding a perfect donor match. 

It doesn’t hurt to help

Bone marrow and stem cell donation methods have evolved since the 1940s. Nine times out of 10 giving blood stem cells is just like giving blood, except it’s done in hospitals in major cities around Australia instead of coming in to a blood donor centre.

Only 10 percent of donors are asked to donate bone marrow, and usually it’s for a child. Bone marrow is taken from the back of your hip in a quick procedure performed under general anaesthetic — you won’t feel a thing!

Who makes the best donor?

Research has found that younger donors result in better outcomes for patients, and that’s why The Registry is calling on 18-30 year olds to join and increase a patient’s chance of finding the best possible match.

Gender is also important when it comes to finding the best donor. Physicians tend to choose men over women to avoid logistical issues that can come up if a donor is pregnant or breastfeeding. Men are often able to donate more stem cells than women (due to on average weighing more than women), which is also better for patients.

Patients are more likely to find a match with a donor from the same ethnic background, so Australia needs donors from everywhere in the world.

How to register if you’re aged between 18 and 30

The Registry is piloting a new program called Strength to Give, to encourage younger people to join the register. It’s quick and easy:

  • Create an account on the Strength to Give website. They’ll ask you some simple questions to check your eligibility and begin your application.
  • Fill in the application form and they’ll send you a swab pack in the post.
  • Complete the swab pack and send it back, and you’ll be added to the stem cell register!

Find out more on how to take a cheeky swab here.

How to register if you also wish to donate blood

The great news is that you can also register the next time you come in to donate blood at any of our centres! We're encouraging younger donors aged between 18 and 30 to join the Registry, however anyone between 18 and 45 and able to donate blood is eligible. You just need to let our team know when you arrive that you’d like to be put on the register.

You’ll get an extra form to read and fill out, along with your donor questionnaire. During your donation they’ll take a quick sample of your blood, which will be tested so you can be added to the register. You can find out more about the process on the ABMDR website.