Become a donor!
A family member with completely or partially compatible tissue or an unrelated individual with a compatible tissue type may become a donor in Allogeneic transplants. The degree of histocompatibility between recipient and prospective donor is determined by the number of common Human Leucocyte Antigens (HLAs) that each has inherited from his parents. The chances of compatibility between two siblings is 30%, while it is much rarer to find a compatible donor among other relatives. For this reason donors are sought at the International Bone Marrow Donor Banks and the Public Cord Blood Banks.
Today there are 13 million registered volunteer donors worldwide. In our country the number of volunteer donors is around 15,000, an insufficient number for Greek patients to be able to find a suitable donor. The same is true with regard to Cord Blood Transplants (CBTs). Internationally there are 420,000 units while in our country there are only 2,000.
The Hellenic National Transplant Organization (EMO) is the agency that is in charge of transplants in our country. The search for volunteer donors is conducted through this organization and it is responsible for registering Volunteer Bone Marrow Donors. As regards Cord Blood Grafts, there are 2 Public Banks, one at the Academy of Athens Institute for Medical and Biological Research and the other at the “PAPANIKOLAOU” Hospital in Thessaloniki
The number of Greek volunteer bone marrow donors is small and systematic and coordinated efforts must be made by every agency in order to create a registry with at least 60,000 volunteer donors. The number of Cord Blood Units at the 2 Public Banks must also be increased to cover the needs of our patients. For this reason all the official scientific agencies encourage young couples to donate the Umbilical Cord Blood (stem cells) of their newborn infants to a Public Bank in order to save the life of our fellow human beings. Conversely, there is no usefulness in personally preserving Cord Blood in Private Banks for future “Autologous” use and it is not recommended by the scientific community.
Volunteering to become a bone marrow donor is man’s ultimate gift to his fellow man, bestowing the gift of life. A large number of our fellow human beings, including many children, die every year because their bone marrow, the “factory” that produces their blood, is deficient, has been destroyed or has been invaded by malignant cells. Scientific progress today affords us the possibility of saving these people by giving them something of ourselves.
By giving a little blood, every one of us can become a prospective bone marrow donor. This blood sample is sent to a special laboratory for testing to determine the prospective donor’s “tissue type”, which is then entered into the relative records.
When a volunteer who is compatible with a prospective recipient is found, he is duly notified, informed and asked whether he still wishes to donate his bone marrow to the patient. In the affirmative, a simple and brief procedure follows, the result of which is the beginning of a fellow human being’s salvation.
About 100 Greek patients, half of which are children, could be saved each year by a bone marrow transplant.
And it’s up to us to save them!
ORAMA ELPIDAS ASSOCIATION
BONE MARROW DONOR REGISTRY
Children's Oncology Unit "Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA"