There are a lot of myths about bone marrow donation, but the process is only about as painful as giving blood.
Guess what? Bone marrow donation hurts the most -- when you don’t Join the Global Registry to possibly save a life.
Want to know more before you register? Well, your wish is our command. Read the FAQs below to learn more.
A bone marrow transplant is a life-saving treatment for people with leukemia, lymphoma, and a variety of other blood conditions. Prior to receiving a transplant, a patient is treated with chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation. The purpose of these prep-treatments is to completely destroy the diseased marrow.
Once this occurs, the donor’s healthy blood-forming cells are injected into the patient’s bloodstream, where they multiply. To prevent rejection of the healthy cells, it is imperative that the donor closely “match” the patient.
Note: It’s important to understand that approximately 70% of patients are unable to obtain a “match” from family members. As a result, they depend on the worldwide bone marrow registry for a potential unrelated bone marrow donor.
Project Life Movement is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Our mission is to save lives and cure diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease by growing the number of potential bone marrow and stem cell donors on the global registry. We do this by registering and testing college students.
Why college students? We recruit young, healthy college students, because they typically provide the most successful “matches.”
Project Life Movement was originally formed in 1990 by an ambitious group of Davidson College students; however, it continues to expand to more and more colleges and universities each year.
There is a need for more volunteer donors because it provides patients with a better chance of receiving the bone marrow transplants they need. Understand that finding a successful “match” for patients, who are running out of options, is of utmost concern.
Approximately six out of 10 people who need this life-saving treatment are unable to find a suitable “match.”
This statistic is frightening, because every five minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer or blood condition that requires a bone marrow transplant.
What does that mean? It means that thousands of patients with blood cancers or conditions like leukemia, lymphoma, or sickle cell anemia are in desperate need of stem cell or bone marrow transplants but can’t get them.
The problem? There aren’t enough donors to provide for those in need. That is why there is a need for more potential donors to join the registry.
Potential donors must be between the ages of 18 and 44. They must also be in good health. So, you don’t have to be a college student to register and donate bone marrow.
Note: We primarily recruit younger donors because they tend to have fewer health problems and typically provide the most successful “matches,” however, that doesn’t mean we turn other potential donors between 18 and 44 away. Any adult who is healthy, within the age range, and willing to donate can be registered and provide bone marrow.
Keep in mind that a potential donor must also weigh at least 110 pounds, and be HIV negative.
Unfortunately, a potential donor that has one or more of the following conditions is considered ineligible to register and donate bone marrow.
Once you join the Project Life Movement and join the global registry, you are committed to being on the list until you turn 61 – unless you ask to be removed. Your commitment also includes the following: (1) possible donation and (2) a quick response, if you are contacted about being a potential “match” for a patient.
The good news is that it’s a remarkably easy process - one that involves using cotton swabs to collect tissue cells from the inside of your cheeks. Four swabs, one for each quadrant of the mouth, are rubbed against the cheek for 10 seconds. The swabbing and completion of registration information generally takes less than 10 minutes.
Once you have been tested and typed, you will be added to the worldwide stem cell & bone marrow registry. This registry is searched daily by doctors around the world to find potential donors, who are genetic “matches,” with their patients.
If a doctor selects you as a “match” for a patient, you may be asked to donate bone marrow or cells.
Swabs are used to test and collect tissue cells. These cells contain proteins or “markers.” These proteins are found in almost all of the cells in your body, so doctors select donors whose tissue cells closely “match” the patient’s. The closer the “match,” the better for the patient.
Adult donors may be asked to donate in one of two ways: (1) a sterile needle may be used to withdraw blood from one of your arms, or (2) liquid marrow may be withdrawn from the back of your pelvic bones using special, hollow needles.
Once collected, your blood sample is placed in a machine that separates the cells that are to be used in the transplant, and your remaining blood is returned to you in the other arm.
Many people say the entire procedure is no more painful than giving blood. The can also sometimes be performed under anesthesia.
If side-effects occur, they are usually mild.
However, common side-effects that may occur include the following: lower back pain, stiffness when walking, headaches, and/or fatigue.
Let your doctor know if you experience continued or worsening side-effects.
Side-effects, if any, are usually temporary, only lasting for a few days.
Only one in every 1,000 global registry members will be contacted about donating stem cells or bone marrow. Thus, you may never be called upon to donate, or you may be considered a potential “match” for a patient. It just depends.
It’s also possible you may be the only person on the registry who can save a particular patient’s life.