Hyundai Cancer Institute :: Blood or Marrow Transplant Donor Information
The information below is provided by the CHOC Children's Blood and Marrow Transplant team. It is important to address specific questions and concerns about the transplant process with the patient's case coordinator or physician.
How are a donor and recipient matched?
Matching involves typing human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue. The antigens on the surface of these special white blood cells determine the genetic make-up of a person's immune system. There are at least 100 HLA antigens; however, it is believed that there are a few major antigens that determine whether a donor and recipient match. The others are considered "minor" and their effect on a successful transplant is not as well defined.
Can extended family members and friends be tested to see if they are a match for the patient?
CHOC Children’s Hospital is a transplant center and as such, we only test immediate family members (siblings and parents) to see if they are a match. There are two ways to test if extended family members and friends are a match to the patient.
Family and friends can join the Be The Match registry by being available to be a potential donor not only for the child but also for any other patient somewhere in the world needing a transplant. To qualify to join to join the registry, donors must be between 18 and 60 years of age and must pass a health screening questionnaire. A southern California Be The Match center is located a few miles from CHOC Children's in Santa Ana and can be reached through the organization’s national hotline at (800) 526-7809. Donations are accepted in order to offset the cost of adding new members to the registry.
Private testing that does not put family members on the worldwide donor registry can be done for a fee that is not covered by insurance. This is also an option for friends and family who do not meet the Be The Match age requirements. The results of the test will only be available to the potential donor. For additional information or to order a kit, visit www.bonemarrowtest.com or call (877) 565-3287.
Can we save a sibling’s cord to be used for transplant?
CHOC Children’s Hospital's Cord Blood Bank offers cord blood banking for sibling cords through the Sibling Cord Blood Program if the child has a disease that could potentially be transplanted using an allogeneic source. For more information, please contact the CHOC Cord Blood Bank at (714) 509-4335.
Can extended family members and friends donate umbilical cord for used by my child?
Extended family members and friends can donate umbilical cord for specific patient use; however, this is considered private banking, is subject to a storage fee and must be collected at St. Joseph Hospital next to CHOC. It is recommended that umbilical cords from infants born at St. Joseph Hospital be donated for public use through the national registry. For more information, please contact the CHOC Cord Blood Bank at (714) 509-4335.
How do bone marrow transplant donors prepare for the donation procedure?
If a potential donor is notified that he or she may be a match for a child needing a transplant, they will undergo additional tests. Tests related to their health, exposure to viruses and a complete genetic analysis will be done to determine the extent of the match.
Once a donor for a child needing a transplant is found, stem cells will be collected either by a bone marrow harvest (collection of stem cells with a needle placed into the soft center of the bone marrow) or peripheral blood stem cell collection or “apheresis” (stem cells that are collected from the circulating cells in the blood).
A bone marrow harvest is performed under general anesthesia by two physicians. The harvest procedure generally takes approximately an hour and the donor is usually released the same day after a few hours of recovery. A slight discomfort to the pelvic bone areas and fatigue is usually experienced after the procedure, but subsides within a few days. The donor's body will completely replace the donated marrow within four to six weeks.
A peripheral blood stem cell collection or “apheresis” procedure takes approximately four to six hours. A peripheral IV or central line is placed into a large vein and the stem cells are collected. The donor should be released the same day after the procedure. A slight discomfort to the line insertion areas and fatigue is usually experienced after the procedure. The donor can return to work when their fatigue subsides a few days after the donation.