Be Part of the Cure. Become a Marrow Donor

The process to join the Marrow Donor Registry:

Joining the Be The Match Registry is easy. Patients need donors who are between the ages of 18 and 44, meet the health guidelines and are willing to donate to any patient in need.

When you come to a Kids Beating Cancer Marrow Donor Recruitment Drive:

  • We will explain the steps to join the registry and what happens if you are notified you are a match for a patient
  • We will help you understand your commitment
  • We will answer your questions and help you through the registry process.
  • If you can’t attend a marrow donor recruitment drive we can mail you a donor recruitment kit.  

If there isn’t a drive in your area and/or you want to do more than just join the Registry and would like to help recruit more donors, you can order “Recruitment in a Box” and test your family, friends, co-workers, classmates, social club members or members of your church.

All it takes to Join:

Complete a registration form online at Give a swab of cheek cells to be tissue-typed. The results of your tissue typing will be added to the national database the physicians search for patients in need of an unrelated donor.

 Please consider making a financial gift to Kids Beating Cancer. The total cost to add each new member to the registry is about $100. Your generous contribution in any amount to Kids Beating Cancer is tax-deductible and helps make it possible for others to join. 

When you are contacted as a possible match

If you match a patient, you will be contacted by the local Donor Center who is contracted with the National Marrow Donor Program, they will ask if you are willing to donate. If you agree to proceed, you will be asked about your health and you will be scheduled for more testing to see if you are the best match for the patient. 

You may be contacted at different stages of the patient's search and matching process:

  • During a preliminary search, when you are ranked high on a list of potential donors who are a possible match for a patient.
  • When a patient’s doctor requests additional testing to help narrow the list of potential donors.
  • For confirmatory testing when a patient’s doctor requests more testing to determine if you’re the best donor for the patient.

 What you will be asked:

  • You will be asked if you are still interested in participating. You will be provided information and answers to your questions.
  • You will be asked questions about your health to be sure it is safe for you to donate bone marrow or blood stem cells.

 Additional testing:

  • You may be asked to provide a blood or cheek cell sample for additional testing or a stored sample may be used.
  • If you are asked to provide a cheek cell sample, a kit with instructions will be mailed to you.
  • You are likely one of several people being tested. The chance you will be selected is about 1 in 12.

Participating in additional testing is your decision. There is no cost to you — all medical expenses are covered by the patient's insurance, the National Marrow Donor Program that operates the Be The Match Registry. If you are unwilling or unable to participate, please tell the Be The Match Registry as soon as you decide.

It can take one week to 60 days for the patient’s doctor to get the testing results and select a donor. The patient’s condition also affects the timing. The Local Donor Center will keep you posted on the doctor’s decision. If you are the most suitable donor, you may be asked to donate right away or wait until the patient is ready. Doctors base the timing on what is best for the patient and you. 

If you are the best match, you will participate in an information session. You will be given detailed information about the donation and recovery process, including risks and side effects. If you agree to donate, you will sign a consent form.

Next, you will have a physical examination to make sure the donation is safe for both you and the patient.

Health Guidelines
Understanding your Commitment
Procedure to Swab your Cheek Cells 

Donating PBSC or Marrow

There are two methods of donation: peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) and bone marrow. The patient's doctor chooses the donation method that is best for the patient.

PBSC donation is a nonsurgical procedure that takes place at a blood center or outpatient hospital unit. For 5 days leading up to donation, you will be given injections of a drug called filgrastim to increase the number of blood-forming cells in your bloodstream. Your blood is then removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to you through the other arm. Your blood-forming cells are back to their normal levels within 4 to 6 weeks. Marrow donation is a surgical outpatient procedure that takes place at a hospital. You will receive anesthesia and feel no pain during the donation. Doctors use a needle to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of your pelvic bone. The marrow replaces itself completely within 4 to 6 weeks..

Recovery and follow-up

Recovery times vary depending on the individual and type of donation. Most donors are able to return to work, school, and other activities within 1 to 7 days after donation.

PBSC donors can expect to experience a headache, or bone or muscle aches for several days before collection, a side effect of the filgrastim injections. These effects disappear shortly after collection. Most PBSC donors report that they feel completely recovered within 2 weeks of donation. Marrow donors can expect to feel some soreness in their lower back for a few days or longer following the donation. Most marrow donors report that they feel completely recovered within 3 weeks of donation.