History of Bone Marrow Donation and the Process

A Bone Marrow Transplant is a medical procedure performed to replace bone marrow that has been damaged or destroyed by disease, infection, or chemotherapy. This procedure involves transplanting blood stem cells, which travel to the bone marrow where they produce new blood cells and promote growth of new marrow.

In 1968 World’s first successful Bone Marrow Transplant for an HLA matched sibling donor was done. The transplant is performed by Dr.Robert Good, MD, in an Infant with an Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Bone Marrow Transplants are performed for more than 40+ years. As the stem cells of the patient are destroyed by chemotherapy and radiation, he is in need of new stem cells. He can receive them from an HLA matched relative (a match is found in 25% from a sibling) or an unrelated donor who has the same HLA.

What is bone marrow?

Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue inside your bones that makes blood-forming cells (Blood Stem Cells). These cells turn into blood cells including:

• White blood cells to fight infections.
• Red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
• Platelets to control bleeding.

Blood-forming cells are also found in the bloodstream and the umbilical cord blood.

Bone Marrow Transplant can treat Blood disorders like:

• Thalassemia
• Leukemia or Lymphoma
• Aplastic Anemia
• Other immune system or genetic diseases like sickle cell disease

How does transplant work?

Before the transplant, the patient receives chemotherapy (chemo) with or without radiation to destroy the diseased blood-forming cells and marrow. Then, healthy cells are given to you (it’s not surgery). The new cells go into your bloodstream through an intravenous (IV) line, or tube. It’s just like getting blood or medicine through an IV. The cells find their way into your marrow, where they grow and start to make healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Who needs Bone Marrow Transplant?

Blood Stem Cell Transplants are used to treat patients whose Bone Marrow is not producing healthy blood cells. Nearly 100 potentially fatal blood disorders, including several types of Blood Cancer and Thalassemia, are treated with bone marrow transplants taking the support of an unrelated donor like you. The unhealthy cells of the matched patient will be destroyed with Chemotherapy and healthy blood stem cells collected from a donor will be transplanted.

What is HLA?

The HLA (HL antigens), also known as MHC molecules, are molecules on the surface of body cells (comparable to the blood group antigens on red blood cells) and differ from person to person. Because they are genetically determined, they do not change throughout life. The HLA play an important role in the differentiation of endogenous and foreign structures and thus in the body’s defense reactions. HLA are medically significant for two reasons:

In transplant medicine. The more similar the tissues are between donor and recipient (i.e. the more similarities they show in HLA) and the fewer antibodies against HLA antigens of the donor are present in the recipient (e.g. after previous transfusions), the greater the chances of a successful transplantation. Therefore, HLA typing of donor and recipient is performed prior to blood stem cell transplantation.

 Bone Marrow Donation Process:

A. Confirmatory Typing:

You have been selected through an initial search of the database as a potential match and contacted by your Donor Coordinator for an information session. This is an opportunity for you to ask any questions. We recommend that you get your parents and other important or better influencial? members of your family involved so that they can fully understand and support your decision to Gift a Life. During the briefing session, you will be asked to answer a simple questionnaire on your current health status. You will then provide us with a small sample of blood or a cheek swab that will be used for the confirmatory typing. This is to reconfirm that you are the perfect match for the patient.

The choice in your hands. It is your decision to participate in confirmatory typing. You should know you might have the right cells to save a life of a patient who would die if you refuse the donation. Costs incurred for facilitating the donation will be covered by DATRI. Your Donor Coordinator is available to answer any questions or concerns. You have also the opportunity to talk with other donors about their experience so that once you are confirmed as a match for the patient, you can move onto the next stage.

After Confirmatory Typing. The donor coordinator will let you know the outcome of your confirmatory typing in seven (7) days.

If you are a confirmed match, you will be briefed on the next stages of donation. Your Donor Coordinator and one of the panel of doctors are available to assist you during this time.

B. Donor Workup:

We will introduce you to your doctor who will complete a donor health questionnaire and also evaluate you and your family’s medical history. At this time more information will be shared about the donation process and any potential risks and side effects. You are invited to have a family member or friend to attend this session with you. Once you agree to proceed, you will be asked to sign a few documents, including a “consent to donate” document. This confirms that you have understood what will take place during the donation process and you consent.

During Master Health Checkup. You will be given a thorough physical examination to make sure you have no pre-existing medical conditions that could pose any special risks to you or the patient. This will include a chest x-ray, ECG and ultrasound scan. At the same time, some blood samples will be collected to test for infectious diseases to avoid any disease transmission to the patient through donation. The results of the above tests will help to determine your eligibility to donate.

I think we should use another picture, something like a patient and doctor talk…

C. Donation:

Once the doctor gives a medical clearance, you will proceed with the Bone Marrow Donation Process. The donation will be carried out in our nearest collection center.

Bone Marrow Donation

Based on the patient’s disorder and the transplant doctor’s treatment plan, some donors may be requested to donate bone marrow. Marrow donation is a procedure that takes place in a hospital under general anesthesia. You check-in the evening before the donation and the following morning, doctors will collect liquid marrow from the hip bone (pelvic). This takes around one hour and usually, you will be required to stay-in overnight to allow the effects of the anesthesia to wear off. You can then go home the following day.

Most donors will feel some soreness in the lower back for a few days but usually, they resume their routine in a few days. You should be back to do your normal physical activities in a few days or weeks and your own marrow is completely replenished within 4-6 weeks

Are you convinced? Then get registered with Datri and maybe you can save a life – if you are the right match.



DATRI is a Not-for-Profit organization that was founded in 2009 with a mission to save lives of those suffering from life-threatening fatal blood disorders like Blood Cancer, Thalassemia, Leukaemia, Aplastic Anaemia, Sickle Cell Anaemia etc

DATRI is registered with the Government of India as a Section 8 organization and all monetary contributions towards DATRI are subject to 80G exemptions

Get Ready to witness India’s first Women Bone Marrow Donor Mrs.Masilamani Story/ Testimonial and press coverage, this will be posted soon.

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