You will be contacted by a Be The Match representative at one of three times in the donor search 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
You can expect to be asked general information questions (to confirm the information stored in the donor database). At this preliminary stage you may also be asked to provide a blood or cheek sample for confirmation/testing, as you will likely be one of several people being tested. The chances of being selected as the donor from this stage is about 1 in 12.
It may take anywhere from one week to 60 days for a patient’s doctor to get the testing results and select a donor, which can change based on the condition of the patient. If selected, the timetable for the donation is once again up to the discretion of the patient’s doctor. In some situations donors are asked to donate right away, whereas in other situations donors are asked to wait until the patient is ready.
The steps leading to donation
The general steps leading to donation are:
- Participate in an information session - An in person or phone information session with your donor center representative to learn more about the donation process. You will be given detailed information about what to expect, and it is advised to be well prepared for this information session with questions of your own.
- Learn whether you are being asked to donate marrow or PBSC - Click here to learn more about both donation methods.
- Sign the Consent to Donate form - After the information session, you will be asked if you are interested in donating. If yes, you will be asked to confirm the decision by signing the Consent to Donate form.
Please remember that you have the right to decide not to donate at any time. However, if you change your mind after you've signed the consent form, it could cause dangerous delays for the patient. If you change your mind after the patient has begun treatment to prepare for the transplant, the patient will likely die within a short amount of time if he or she does not receive a transplant.
- Consider participation in research studies - If you decide to become a donor you will be invited to participate in BTM research studies. Participation is voluntary.
Note that PBSC donations are only done under a research study. If you choose not to participate in PBSC donation research, you may be asked to donate marrow.
- Receive a physical exam - This is used to confirm that there are no medical conditions that may pose a risk to the donor or patient. It will take place at a clinic at hospital, the costs of which are fully covered by Be The Match. The donor center medical director will review the exam results and confirm that you are healthy to donate.
- Give blood samples - Before you donate, and on the day of donation, you will need to give several blood samples. These are to test for infection disease markers, in addition to compensate for any potential blood loss in marrow donation.
- Proceed with the donation - Pending clearance and scheduling by a doctor, you will then be asked to donate either via PBSC or a marrow donation.
The time commitment
In general donors are asked to expect anywhere from a 20-30 hour (total) time commitment to complete the donation process, spread out over a four- to six-week period.
While this number may seem high, it includes all phone calls, medical appointments, checkups, transportation times and the donation process itself. BTM also understands that donors have personal and professional commitments and will aim to work around your schedule as much as possible, while remaining diligent about the timetable of the patient.
Please remain aware that the possibility of delay or cancellation always exists within the donation process, for a variety of factors that are out of the donor’s control. These include changes in the patient’s condition (for better or for worse) or the identification of a more suitable donor.
Where the donation takes place
After you have been cleared to donate, your donor center representative will contact you to confirm scheduling details. Your donation will take place at a hospital or apheresis center determined by the donor center representative; commonly in a city near you. All costs of travel are covered by Be The Match.
You will not travel to the patient’s location to donate. A trained courier will transport the marrow or PBSC to the patient’s location.