Many Australians each year are diagnosed with leukaemia or other fatal blood disorders. A bone marrow or haemopoietic stem cell transplant is the only possibility of cure for many of these patients. Donors need to be specifically matched to the patient which can make it very difficult to find a donor for certain patients with rare tissue types. Only 1 in 1000 donors will be asked to donate for a patient requiring a transplant in any given year.
Donating bone marrow doesn’t cost you anything, and it actually grows back!
Ideally bone marrow should be donated by a family member, however only 30 per cent of patients identify a ‘match’ with someone closely related to them. The vast majority rely on compatible donors from the bone marrow register – so the more people on it, the better the chance for a match.
Because of this, bone marrow has one of the lowest donation rates even though the donor isn’t losing anything, in fact it’s just like donating blood.