Celebrated annually on the third Saturday of September, World Bone Marrow Donor Day reinforces the urgency of patients waiting for a transplant. The procedure saves lives and can benefit people with about 80 different diseases, such as leukemias, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, bone marrow aplasia and immunodeficiencies. The procedure consists of replacing a diseased bone marrow with normal bone marrow cells (stem cells), with the aim of reconstituting a healthy marrow.
The National Registry of Volunteer Bone Marrow Donors in Brazil – REDOME, linked to the Ministry of Health, is the third largest registry in the world, behind only the United States and Germany. There are more than 5.5 million Brazilians registered. The more entries, the greater the opportunities for compatibility between bone marrows, which speeds up the donation procedure. Therefore, the chance of identifying a compatible donor is currently up to 88%, still in the preliminary search phase, and at the end of the process, 64% of patients have a confirmed compatible donor.
Found inside bones, bone marrow contains hematopoietic stem cells, which produce blood components, including red blood cells, leukocytes or white blood cells, which are part of our body’s defense system, and platelets. , responsible for clotting. Bone marrow transplantation can be autologous (autogenic), that is, when the marrow comes from the person itself, or allogeneic, when it comes from a donor. The doctor in charge determines which type of transplant will be performed according to the disease. When the treatment of choice is allogeneic transplantation, the search for donors begins among family members. Usually, siblings or parents are more likely to have similar genetic makeup.
When the family donor is not found, the solution is to look for a compatible donor among non-family individuals, in the regional or world population, who represent the different ethnic groups (white, black, yellow, etc.) and their miscegenation. REDOME gathers all the volunteers’ data, such as name, address, test results and genetic characteristics. To find out if the donor is a match, blood tests are performed, called histocompatibility tests (HLA).
Who can donate bone marrow?
To become a bone marrow donor, you must be between 18 and 35 years old, be in good general health, not have an infectious or disabling disease in the blood, and not have a neoplastic (cancer), hematological or immune system disease.
The first step is to register at the nearest blood center, where a blood sample (5ml) will be collected for the compatibility test. The donor’s data is entered in the REDOME register and when there is a patient with a possible compatibility, the volunteer is contacted. The material can be sent to the patient in the same city, country or even outside Brazil.
At the time of donor registration, in addition to the HLA, clinical assessments and other laboratory tests are performed to ensure the safety of the donor and the patient.
Ministry of Health
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