Every 20 minutes
someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer like Leukaemia, Lymphoma or Myeloma

Why become a blood stem cell donor?

Blood cancers affect the production and function of your blood cells. For many blood cancer patients, a blood stem cell donation is their only chance of survival, but only half of the people diagnosed in the UK find a matching donor.

 

We need your help to increase the success rate...


Find out how you can register as a blood stem cell donor, get the facts, dispel the myths about stem cell donation, and what to expect if you are matched as a suitable donor.

 

If you have any queries, please read our FAQs

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It's easy to register online...

You might be the one!

Register as a blood stem cell donor with Delete Blood Cancer UK and you might prove to be another person's  matching donor and have the amazing opportunity to save their life.

Only a third of people who need a stem cell donation find a suitable donor within their family. The rest rely on the kindness of a stranger. Delete Blood Cancer UK launched in February 2014 to find a matching  donor for every person in need.

Our key mission is to increase the pool of lifesaving donors and we’re not stopping until we find a match for every person in need.

This is why we need your help! For many people diagnosed with a blood cancer, for whom conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy have been unsuccessful, the only chance of a cure is to receive a donation of healthy blood stem cells from a matching donor.

Once you have registered with Delete Blood cancer UK, your details will be added added anonymously to the UK Stem Cell Registry until you reach the age of 61.

You only need to register once

If you have already registered with another register, for example Anthony Nolan, you don’t need to register your details again.

Register. Swab. Save a Life.

Request a swab kit today

Can you join the register? Remember to check the eligibility criteria first...

Who is eligible to donate?

Any healthy adult living in the UK, between the ages of 18 and 55 can become a donor, and pre-registration is possible from the age of 17. However if you have, or have had in the past, a chronic or other serious condition (some of the most important examples are listed below) or take any medications regularly, please discuss this for initial guidance with a member of the Delete Blood Cancer UK team.

Please check the exclusion criteria below:

  • Heart diseases (e. g. previous heart attack, coronary heart disease)
  • Lung diseases (e. g. severe bronchial asthma)
  • Diseases of the haematopoietic system
  • Severe kidney diseases
  • Thrombosis
  • Severe illnesses of the central nervous system
  • Cancer
  • HIV or Aids
  • Metabolic diseases (e. g. diabetes)
  • Autoimmune conditions (e. g. rheumatism)
  • Severe infectious diseases, (e. g. infectious jaundice, chronic Hepatitis B, C)
  • Weight under 7 stone 12 lbs/50 kg
  • Obesity (i.e. body mass index (BMI) > 40)    
    BMI = weight/height in cm 2


If you are already listed with the British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR), the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry (WBMDR) or with Anthony Nolan, you should not re-register. You should also not register if you do not live in UK.

How are stem cells donated?

Vital stem cells are present in abundance in the bone marrow of the iliac crest (that is the hip bone and not the spinal cord). If a medical assessment determines a donor is suitable, there are two ways in which these stem cells can be collected:

1. Peripheral stem cell collection

  • The donor is administered G-CSF (granulocyte-colony stimulating factor) a naturally occurring growth hormone, over a period of four consecutive days. This medication promotes the production of a surplus of blood stem cells, which are then extracted directly from the blood using a procedure which is similar to that used in giving blood.
  • The DKMS family of worldwide organisations has used this procedure since 1996, and it has been used medically for even longer. According to current research, no known long-term side effects have been documented.
  • Short-term side effects may include flu-like symptoms, which may occur whilst the donor takes the medication.
  • This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis.
  • Around 90% of donations are carried out using this method.

2. Bone marrow collection

  • Approximately 5% of the donor’s bone marrow is extracted whilst the donor is under general anaesthesia.
  • The donor’s bone marrow regenerates completely within two weeks.
  • The donor remains in hospital for 2 to 3 days for the bone marrow collection procedure.
  • Following collection, the donor may experience localised pain, similar to a bruise, for a few days.

The decision about which collection method used depends on the needs of the blood cancer patient, alongside the considerations of the donor. The donor is free to withdraw from the donation at any time during the assessment period, and up until the time the treatment of the patient begins. Any costs will be covered/ reimbursed by Delete Blood Cancer UK, irrespective of which method of collection is used.

Support the cause

Register in 3 easy steps:

1. Fill in this online registration form.

2. Receive your ‘do it yourself’ donor kit in the post.

3. Swab the inside of your cheek with the swab stick we send you and send it back to us in the envelope provided.

We will analyse your saliva and save the results of the analysis from your swab stick in our database, anonymise it, and make it available for worldwide patient searches. The actual cost for this tissue typing is £40 and we are grateful to those donors who are able to cover this cost or at least partially finance the cost of their registration.

If you would like to register several people, you can order up to five donor kits from us. If you need more than this, please send an email to donor@deletebloodcancer.org.uk or call us on
Tel: 020 3176 7620

Who pays for tissue typing?

Tissue typing is the determination of your tissue characteristics from your swab through analysis in a laboratory and the actual cost to us is £40 per registration. We fund all tissue typing costs entirely through voluntary monetary donations. This is why we are grateful to those who are able to support us by making a monetary donation to support registration costs.

Once registered - always registered

Donors who register with Delete Blood Cancer UK  remain on the register  turn 61 years old. You only need to register once in your lifetime and there is no need to register with several stem cell donor registries. If a person requires a stem cell donation, the search for a matching donor will commence within the UK and then be broadened to include international donor registries. If you move or change your name, please inform us of your new contact details.

What happens after registration?

Your tissue characteristics are analysed

Once we have received your buccal swab, tissue typing will take place. Our laboratory will determine your individual tissue characteristics (HLA characteristics). Following tissue typing, we will send your tissue characteristics together with your anonymised donor number to registries whom match your data with patient’s characteristics.

From this point on, your tissue characteristics will be available for patient searches from across the world. If your tissue characteristics match those of a patient, we will get in touch with you directly.In order to save vital time when a donor proves to be a match for a patient, we carry out high-resolution typing of the ten most important tissue characteristics relevant to transplantation. This saves time as it is easy to see whether a donor is suitable for a particular patient.

Your address is vitally important

A few weeks after your registration, you will receive your personal donor card by post with your donor number on it. Please refer to this number whenever you contact us, (e.g.) for example when you need to inform us of a change of address.We will stay in contact with you over the coming years thereafter. We will ensure that you are kept up-to-date regarding our vital work and that we always have your current address and contact details. This will enable us to get in touch with you easily if you do prove to be a match for a patient.

If you are a suitable donor

Just five in every hundred potential stem cell donors are asked to make a stem cell donation within the ten years following registration. For young donors, the probability of donating is around 1% in the first few years after tissue typing has taken place. (But)

What happens when your tissue characteristics prove to be a match?

Confirmatory typing (CT)

If your tissue characteristics (mean that) are found to be a match for someone and you may be able to be a stem cell donor (for a particular patient), you will receive a detailed health questionnaire from us so that we can identify any criteria that may exclude you, early on in the process.

Confirmatory typing (CT) will also follow. This is where your tissue characteristics are analysed again using a blood sample to ensure that you are a potential match  for your patient. Your blood will also be checked for the presence of specific pathogens, such as HIV and hepatitis.

If you have any questions about stem cell donation at this point, a Delete Blood Cancer specialist from our team will be available to answer all of your questions.

Your Decision to give the gift of life

If you have been lucky enough to be a match for someone, you must decide whether you are still happy to proceed with the donation process. Following a full medical examination and consultation by a doctor, the donor is then asked to give written informed consent for donation.

About a week before the transplant date, the patient undergoes a preparation phase in which abnormal stem cells in the bone marrow are eradicated using chemotherapy and possibly also radiation therapy. From this point on, the patient cannot survive without receiving a transplant of healthy stem cells from the donor.

Register, swab, save a life...
Every registration costs us £40. Please help us to cover these costs.

Analysis of tissue characteristics
Once we receive your blood sample or buccal swab, tissue typing will take place. A laboratory will determine your individual tissue characteristics (HLA characteristics). Following tissue typing, we will send your tissue characteristics together with your anonymized donor number to the ZKRD, the German National Registry of Blood Stem Cell Donors in Ulm, Germany, and to the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) in the USA.

From this point on, your tissue characteristics will be available for patient searches from across the world. If your tissue characteristics match those of a patient, DKMS will get in touch with you.

In order to save vital time when a donor proves to be a match for a patient, we carry out high-resolution (very detailed) typing of the ten most important tissue characteristics relevant to transplantation. This means we do not have to carry out additional analyses. It also saves time as it is easy to see whether a donor is suitable for a particular patient.

Your address is vitally important
A few weeks after your registration, you will receive your personal donor card through the mail with your donor number on it. Please refer to this number whenever you contact us, e.g. when you need to inform us of a change of address.

We will also remain in contact with you over the years. This means that we can make sure you are kept up-to-date regarding the vital work being undertaken by DKMS and that we always have your current address and contact details. This will enable us to get in touch with you easily if you do prove to be a match for a patient.

If you are a suitable donor
In our experience, just five in every hundred potential stem cell donors are asked to make a stem cell donation within the ten years following registration. For young donors, the probability of donating is around 1% in the first few years after tissue typing has taken place.

But what happens when your tissue characteristics do prove to be a match?

Confirmatory typing (CT)
If your tissue characteristics mean that you may be able to be a stem cell donor for a particular patient, you will receive a detailed health questionnaire from us so that we can identify any criteria that may exclude you early on in the process. Confirmatory typing (CT) will also follow. This is where your tissue characteristics are analyzed again using a blood sample to ensure that you are a 100% match for your patient. Your blood will also be checked for specific pathogens, such as HIV and hepatitis.

If you have any questions about stem cell donation at this point, a personal advisor from the DKMS team will be available to answer your questions.

Your Decision to Give the Gift of Life
If you do turn out to be a suitable donor for a patient, you must decide whether or not you want to proceed with the donation process. Following a final examination and consultation by a doctor, the donor is then asked to give written informed consent for donation.

About a week before the transplant date, the patient undergoes a preparation phase in which abnormal stem cells in the bone marrow are destroyed using chemotherapy and possibly also radiation therapy. From this point on, the patient cannot survive without receiving a transplant of healthy stem cells from the donor.

What is the procedure for
stem cell donation?

Despite our efforts to make the public aware of stem cell donation, a number of myths surrounding the process still exist.

Here, we give you the true facts behind some of the most common myths.

Myth 1 / Wrong

Stem cells are taken from the spinal cord.

Fact: The spinal cord and the bone marrow are often confused. The spinal cord of the donor remains untouched. If a surgical procedure is required, bone marrow or stem cells are taken from the iliac crest. Bone marrow collection is done under general anesthetic.

Myth 2 / Wrong

Surgery is always required for stem cell donation.

Fact: In addition to a surgical procedure namely the removal of bone marrow from the iliac crest there is also another means of collecting stem cells. This is called peripheral stem cell collection and is actually the procedure that is most frequently used in over 80% of cases. This involves collecting stem cells from the blood using a method that is similar to that used in giving blood. This is an outpatient procedure that does not involve the use of anesthesia.

Myth 3 / Wrong

If I donate stem cells, then I can never get them back.

Fact: The body starts generating new stem cells immediately and is fully replaced within two weeks. The procedure is comparable to blood donation and does not result in the permanent loss of stem cells.

Myth 4 / Wrong

The donor must have the same blood type as the patient.

Fact: The stem cell donor does not have to have the same blood type, but needs to have the most exact match possible between the tissue characteristics (HLA characteristics) to the patient. Finding a 100 percent match is very rare and is often compared to looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Register. Swab. Save a life...

The registration and tissue typing of a new potential stem cell donor costs Delete Blood Cancer UK £40 per donor registration.

The bulk of the costs are for analysing the tissue types in the laboratory. We are really pleased that many of our donors support us in these costs by making a voluntary monetary donation. But not everyone can pay the £40 for the tissue typing so please help us to ensure that the willingness to donate does not depend on money.

Every pound really counts in our mission to build our donor pool so that there is a donor for everyone that needs one. If you are unable to donate stem cells for health reasons, any monetary donation you make could still give people hope for a second chance at life. By making  a monetary donation you could can become a sponsor for other potential stem cell donors who cannot or can only partially afford the tissue typing costs of their swab sample.