nbmtLINK - National Bone Marrow Transplant Link
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Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant Frequently Asked Questions
Helpful information for patients, caregivers and families
(Bilingual Spanish/English)

6. How does one become a bone marrow donor or donate cord blood?

Friends, coworkers, and others interested in becoming a volunteer bone marrow donor may either contact a local donor center or visit Be the Match at www.bethematch.org to learn more about local donor drives or about joining online. (See Resource Listing)

The criteria for becoming a volunteer donor include being between the ages of 18 and 60, meeting the health guidelines, and being willing to donate to any patient in need. Those who will not be able to serve as marrow or PBSC donors include people with a history of severe heart problems, cancer, hepatitis, insulin-dependent diabetes, or HIV infection. Donors are screened for conditions that would put them at too great a risk to donate, as well as for illnesses that could be harmful to the patient.

Donating umbilical cord blood poses no danger to the mother or newborn's health, has no associated costs, and may save a life someday. Interested parents should speak with their obstetrician about this option in advance of their delivery. Public cord blood banks have staff dedicated to guiding potential donors through the process. Individuals may also be interested in options for private/family banking of cord blood for future use by the baby it came from or by immediate relatives. In this case, the family covers the cost of annual storage fees, but the parents retain ownership of the cord blood unit.

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