10 Myths and Facts About Bone Marrow Donation

1. How rare do you think the blood cancers are?

Each year in the USA, 10% of new cancer cases are blood cancers, with estimated 20,000 new blood cancer patients. An estimated 1 million people in the USA are living with or in remission from blood cancers.

2. How dangerous do you think is the Leukemia?

There are many types of Leukemia. 90% of kids diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoma Leukemia) can be cured. The five-year survival rates for some type of Leukemia, e.g. AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia), are still 30% or lower. Below is an overall historical survival rates of Leukemia. Both my son Jerry and daughter Lillian were diagnosed with AML.

3. How possible can patients find matching bone marrow donors?

In the USA, 77% of White Americans can find matching donors, but only 40% of Asian Americans and 25% of African Americans can find matching donors. So we need to encourage more minorities to register as marrow donors, since the patients can only find matching donors from the same ethnic group.

4. How to register as a marrow donor?

Registering as marrow donor is easy: simply swab your cheek and mail back the saliva sample.

5. How much does it cost to register as a marrow donor?

Registering as marrow donors are free for adults between 18 and 45 (or 60 sometimes). Older people need to pay $100 to register, and usually Doctors will only choose donors below 45 or even 35 so that the patients will have better survival rates.

6. What is the commitment of a donor?

Though donors are encouraged to have strong commitments as this will save a people, donation is totally voluntary. A donor can even change mind in the last minute before the donation without any worry or pressure. The following shows how one can save a patient, from registration to donation:

7. Who is not qualified as marrow donor?

A person must be at least 18 to donate because donation is a medical procedure and the person must be able to give legal informed consent. Also, because it’s a voluntary procedure a guardian or parent can’t sign a release or give consent for someone under age 18.

8. How to match donors with patients?

For blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants, what matters is the best possible match between the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue characteristics from the donor and patient. A perfect match is very complicated to find. We usually say a 9/10 or 10/10 match is a good match.

9. How does the donor actually donate bone marrow?

Bone marrow donation is quite safe since the donor often only donates the stem cells. And in most cases, marrow donation does not donate marrow directly. 80% of marrow donors donate marrow via a non-surgery procedure called Peripheral Blood Stem Cell donation (just like blood donation). The other 20% of donors will donate marrow from their hip bone (not from the backbone) to reduce the risk to a minimum.

10. Myths and facts about bone marrow donation

We need more marrow donors. Only 2% of the U.S. population registered as marrow donors.



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Our two kids were diagnosed with AML leukemia. Our daughter Lillian has not found the matching donor. Please help us advocate donor drives @ Donor4Lillian.com