Marrow and Stem Cell Donation

Join the Registry and Save a Life

The Masonic Blood+Organ Donor program has partnered with NMDP to assist those who are facing blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other life-threatening diseases.

Every year, 18,000 patients are diagnosed with one of these conditions that could be cured or treated with a blood stem cell transplant. Since 70% of them don’t have a fully-matched donor in their family, they depend on a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplant to save their life. NMDP connects patients with a matching donor for a life-saving transplant.

To support this cause, you can join the cell donor registry, which is done by a simple cheek swab submitted through the mail.

Every year, 18,000 patients are diagnosed with blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia or other conditions that could be cured or treated with a blood stem cell transplant.


For additional information and resources on organ donation, visit our Blog.

Healthy blood stem cells are needed to live. When disease affects marrow so that it cannot function properly, a blood stem cell transplant could be the best treatment option, and for some patients, offers the only potential cure.

A blood stem cell transplant takes a donor’s healthy blood-forming cells and puts them into the patient’s bloodstream, where they begin to grow and make healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Patients receive high doses of chemotherapy to prepare their body for the transplant. Then on transplant day, the patient receives the donated cells in a process that is like getting blood or medicine through an intravenous (IV) catheter or tube.

You can join the NMDP Registry℠ if you’re:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 40
  • A resident of the United States or one of its territories or freely associated states
  • Able to meet their medical guidelines

There’s a lot of science behind matching donors and patients, but the key component is human Leukocyte antigens (HCA). These are proteins found on cells in your body. Once NMDP receives your cheek swabs, they test your DNA for these markers and add your genetic type, or HLA, to their database. Doctors search that database to find the best HLA matches for their patients. Doctors may also look at other donor criteria such as age, sex and past infections.

Donors never pay for donating, and are never paid to donate. All medical costs for the donation procedure are covered by NMDP, or by the patient’s medical insurance, as are travel expenses and other non-medical costs. The only costs to the donor might be time taken off from work.

Becoming a donor requires a time commitment. Before you donate, there are several steps to make sure you are the best donor for the patient. These steps include an information session to provide resources to help you make your decision, as well as appointments for additional blood tests and a physical exam. The time needed for the actual donation depends on the donation procedure.

Recovery time depends on the person and their doctor and which of the two methods is used for donation.

The median time to full recovery from peripheral blood stem cell donation (used 90% of the time) is one week, although many donors report being fully recovered within two days of donation. PBSC donors should be able to return to work, school and other activities the next day or as soon as they feel recovered.

While most people who donate via bone marrow (used 10% of the time) can return to work, school and other activities within one to seven days, the median time to full recovery is 21 days. (Median time is defined as the middle number in a range of numbers.)