CancerConnect News: This week, Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW) and the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) announced that a record 25 million people worldwide are currently listed as potential volunteer marrow donors in hopes of saving the lives of those battling life-threatening blood cancers and diseases. The significant milestone gives greater hope to searching patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals around the world.
BMDW was created in 1989 as a collaborative effort of eight countries and has grown to a community of 53 countries that are working together to achieve a centralized file of all potential volunteer marrow donors worldwide. This resource is crucial for patients in need of a blood stem cell transplant, because in nearly 50 percent of blood stem cell transplants, the donor and the patient come from different countries.
BMDW works closely with the WMDA—an association responsible for establishing consistent, high-quality standards for worldwide marrow donor registries—and provides a comprehensive list of potential marrow donors and donated umbilical cord blood units, primarily from WMDA member registries and cord blood banks. The BMDW global database is easily accessible to physicians to search on behalf of their patients in need of a blood stem cell transplant.
Professor Dr. Jon J. van Rood, founder of BMDW, said, “Today we celebrate a remarkable 25 million potential marrow donors on worldwide registries. Thanks to these 25 million potential volunteer donors, 250,000 patients have found their match and received an unrelated marrow transplant. But our work is not done. We need more potential donors to join registries around the world, as an equal number of patients have searched for a donor and could not find one.”
Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with a blood cancer. A marrow or cord blood transplant is a potentially life-saving treatment for more than 70 different diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease. Other diseases include aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, inherited immune deficiency disorders and inherited metabolic disorders.
Michael Boo, J.D., president of WMDA and chief strategy officer of the National Marrow Donor Program®(NMDP)/Be The Match®, was thrilled to announce the milestone. “We are so grateful for the millions of people around the world who have volunteered to be the cure. Every person who has joined a marrow donor registry moves us closer to finding a marrow donor for every patient in need,” said Boo. “Our goal as a global community is to continue to grow this inventory of donors and cord blood units by adding more than one million potential volunteer marrow donors and cord blood units from an increasing number of countries each year,” continued Boo.
The importance of adding more potential marrow donors and cord blood units to the worldwide registries is underscored by the constantly increasing use of transplants as a treatment for a wider range of diseases. An exponential rise in all types of blood stem cell transplants, particularly from unrelated donors, has occurred since the first successful unrelated transplant in 1973. U.K.-based Anthony Nolan, the world’s first marrow donor registry, began recruiting potential volunteer marrow donors in 1974. Today, unrelated transplants are often as successful as those that use sibling donors.
The BMDW global database provides a unique service to transplant centers and registries searching on behalf of patients from around the world who are trying to find the best match for patients in need of a life-saving blood stem cell or marrow transplant and who do not have a matching sibling. By providing a single registry for listing all available adult volunteer marrow donors and cord blood units, it provides a quick and thorough search service, reporting on whether and where a good match can be found. In 2014, over 225,000 search requests were made for patients in need of a blood stem cell transplant.
Be The Match is proud to be part of this unique international network. The U.S.-based Be The Match Registry® is the world’s largest and most diverse donor registry with nearly 12.5 million potential marrow donorsand more than 209,000 donated cord blood units. Be The Match facilitates more blood stem cell transplants every year thanks to generous volunteer marrow and cord blood donors. Since the organization began operations in 1987, Be The Match has facilitated a total of 68,000 transplants, including nearly 6,300 transplants in 2014 alone, for patients in need of a cure.
To find the best matched donor for a patient, the first step is to look into BMDW, the global database, where all potential donors and cord blood units are listed. The database is available for physicians who can quickly look and determine within a few minutes if there is chance for a match for their patients.
Worldwide, over 50,000 patients per year are looking for a matched donor outside their family.
Nearly 50% of the patients that find a donor find his or her perfectly matched donor in another country. WMDA works towards a global standardization by establishing an accreditation program for registries. The accreditation program ensures that organizations protect the welfare of the donors and high-quality stem cells for patients worldwide.
About Be The Match®
For people with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry®, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant.
Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.