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Frequently Asked Questions on all things Versiti

Marrow Donation

Marrow Donation FAQ


  • If I'm over 60, why can't I join?

    The age guidelines are good for both donors and patients:

    • Your safety: As you get older, the risk of complications increases. For your safety, age 60 is the upper age limit.
    • The health of the patient: Research shows that cells from younger donors lead to more successful transplants. That’s because younger donors produce more and higher-quality cells than older donors.
  • Why are younger donors (between the ages of 18 and 44) preferred?

    When more than one potential donor is a good human leukocyte antigen HLA match for a patient, doctors will also consider other factors, including the donor’s age. Research shows that cells from younger donors lead to more successful transplants because younger donors produce more and higher-quality cells than older donors.

Joining the National Registry

  • How can I contact someone at Versiti about becoming a marrow donor?

    For questions about donor eligibility, call us at 866-702-HOPE (866-702-4673).

  • How do I use the registration kit to collect a cheek cell sample?

    To join the marrow donor registry, you will be asked to provide a swab sample of your cheek cells as instructed in the kit. The tissue on the swab will be analyzed to match you to patients.

    If you join at a donor registry drive, a Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin representative will explain how to use the swab kit. If you join online, you will receive your kit in the mail, and instructions will be included in your kit. 

  • I've already been tested for a family member. How can I add my results to the national marrow donor registry?

    Get a copy of your human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue typing lab report. Then call the Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin at 866-702-HOPE (866-702-4673).

  • What is my commitment if I join?

    When you join the national bone marrow donor registry, called Be The Match®, you make a commitment to:

    • Be listed on the registry until your 61st birthday, unless you ask to be removed
    • Consider donating to any searching patient who matches you
    • Keep Be the Match® updated if:
      • your address changes
- you have significant health changes

      • you change your mind about being a donor

    Respond quickly if you are contacted as a potential match for a patient

    You certainly have the right to change your mind about being a donor at any time. Donating is always voluntary and we understand that it’s an important decision for you. If you decide you no longer wish to donate, contact Be the Match® right away. That way, Be the Match® can search for another donor without dangerous delays for the patient.

  • Why is there sometimes a cost associated with joining the registry?

    The total cost to add a new member to the Be the Match® registry is about $100. This includes the cost of the testing needed to match donors to searching patients and related costs. Be the Match® relies on financial contributions to help cover the costs of adding members to the registry. Others before have contributed toward the costs for you to join today. However, there are not always enough funds to cover the number of donors needed, so sometimes new members are asked to pay some of the registration costs when they join. Your contribution will make it possible for more people like you to join in the future. Every gift helps make life-saving transplants a reality for more patients

The transplant process

  • What is a bone marrow transplant?

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

    For a patient's body to accept these healthy cells, the patient needs a donor who is a close match. Seventy percent of patients do not have a donor in their family and depend on the Be The Match® registry—the national donor registry—to find an unrelated donor for bone marrow.

  • What is the donation process like?

    Adult donors may be asked to donate in one of two ways:

    • Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure in which liquid marrow is withdrawn from the back of the donor's pelvic bones using special, hollow needles. General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure, so donors feel no needle injections and no pain during marrow donation. Most donors feel some soreness in their lower back for a few days afterward.   
    • Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation involves removing a donor's blood through a sterile needle in one arm. The blood is passed through a machine which separates out the cells used in transplants. The remaining blood is returned through the other arm.

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