Infographic: Bone Marrow Donor Diversity

Diversity Needed in Bone Marrow Donor Registries

Many cancers of the blood and other blood-related diseases are treatable today with blood or bone marrow transplant – if doctors can find a good donor match.

Bone marrow matching is much more complicated than blood type matching

  • Need to match a group of proteins called human leukocyte antigens (HLA)
  • A person genetically inherits their HLA pattern, half from each parent
  • Each person's pattern tells the immune system which cells not to attack
  • For a successful transplant, a donor should have 6-10 or more of the same HLA markers

Most people need a donor from outside their family.

About 30% of people who need a transplant find a good match in their family

  • A person genetically inherits their HLA pattern, half from each parent
  • Full siblings statistically have a 25% chance of being a match

About 70% will need bone marrow from an unrelated donor

  • Bone marrow registries like Be The Match® list the HLA patterns for large numbers of people
  • Good matches are more likely to come from people with the same ethnic background since HLA is inherited
  • Adding more registry members who increase the ethnic diversity of the registry increases the variety of tissue types available. This helps more patients find the match they need

Bone marrow registries need ethnic diversity to help more people find a suitable donor.

By ethnicity, the likelihood of finding a bone marrow donor match in the Be The Match Registry:®

  • White 64%
  • Hispanic or Latino 41%
  • Asian or Pacific islander 41%
  • American Indian or Alaska Native 40%
  • African American or Black 29%

More donors are needed from underrepresented groups and people with multiracial ancestry

  • Different ethnicities have more or less complex HLA patterns inherited from common ancestors
  • Many people are unaware that ethnic background is an important factor in donation

Join the registry today.

Registration is simple

Fill out an online form and return a DNA sample swabbed from inside your cheek. Registration and donation typically cost the donor nothing.

Donation is minimally invasive

Donation is performed using one of two methods and the patient's doctor decides which method is best for their patient. With either method recovery time tends to be short and donors can expect to return to work, school and most other activities within 1 to 7 days.

Donors save lives

Finding an unrelated donor may be the only hope for many in need of a transplant. More diversity in donor registrations means more lives that can be saved.