How to become a donor in the U.S.A. and Canada
5 small steps to save a life
Contact your local health service or bone marrow donor program for directions to your closest testing facility.
Call your local center to make an appointment. The waiting period tends to be between 2 or 7 days.
In order to study your histocompatibilty, one of two methods are used, depending on the country:
- Cheek swab: in the USA and Germany, for instance, samples for compatibility studies are submitted via a cheek swab. Swabs, reminiscent of a q-tip, will be mailed to you. You will have to swab the inside of your cheek with them, and then mail them back for testing.
- Blood sample: a small blood simple will be taken from you to conduct a basic histocompatibility study. Some of that sample will be kept at the lab in order to conduct further tests if a compatible patient is found, avoiding the need for a new prick of the needle if such a patient is located.
Your basic data and compatibility features will be registered in your national bone marrow donor database. This data will be encrypted and stored, in full compliance with your local data protection laws. This data will then be incorporated into the Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide network (BMDW), which features data from over 22 million donors in 50 countries.
With any luck, one of the hundreds of thousands of people around the world will be compatible with you. If this is the case, you will be contacted to make a donation. This donation is a simple procedure, done under local or general anesthetic, by which some bone marrow is extracted from the hip through a series of punctures. Donors feel only a small discomfort, and after some hours under observation, can go home. The extracted bone marrow will have been regenerated within a month of the extraction.
Where can I donate? – NEW!!
The National Donor Program can provide you with information regarding how and where to donate in the USA or Canada. Extensive information regarding the process can be found on its website, bethematch.org. Tel. (toll free from USA and Canada): 1 (800) MARROW2 (1-800-627-7692)
Some people may not be able to become donors due to health reasons or life choices. Please consult the websites or hospitals to see posible restrictions.