Have you heard of stem cell donation? In the media, there are a lot of reports about seriously ill patients who are saved by stem-cell therapy or who are urgently looking for a donor. Unfortunately, patients of non-European origin often cannot find a suitable donor. This is mainly because there is a major shortage of donors of North African, Central African, Turkish or mixed origin (e.g. Belgian-Turkish).
Are you of foreign or mixed descent? Then you can help. By registering as a stem cell donor, you can ensure that there is more variation in the stem cell registry and help us cure more patients of non-European origin.
Are you of foreign or mixed descent too? You can save lives too. Become a stem cell donor today.
For patients of North African, Central African, Turkish or mixed origin who need stem cells, the chance of finding a match is currently very small. Only 65% of patients of non-European origin are matched with a suitable donor in the worldwide database, compared to 90% of patients of Western European origin. This is partly due to the lack of bone marrow registries in the countries in question. If more people of foreign or mixed descent become stem cell donors, we can help more patients.
Stem cells are cells in the body that can divide indefinitely and create specialized cells: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Stem cells are found in your bone marrow, although we have recently succeeded in taking stem cells from blood too. They are essential for treating certain diseases, in particular leukemia. The transplanted stem cells replace the damaged bone marrow of the patient, who can then recover.
If you are identified as a suitable donor for a patient (and this can happen years after you have registered as a potential donor), you will be called and asked if you are still prepared to be a donor. If so, then we take some blood again as a final check. If everything is okay, then we make an appointment for the donation.
At least three weeks before your stem cells are taken, we perform a full medical examination. You receive two injections of growth factors every day for the last five days before the procedure so that your stem cells can be harvested from your blood.
The donation procedure itself takes place in hospital. We take blood from a vein, remove the stem cells and then reinject the blood into your body via another vein. The whole process is painless and takes about four hours. Your stem cells are then administered to the patient.
Bone marrow in both adults and children can become damaged, for example due to leukemia. For these patients, a stem cell transplant is often their last chance of a cure because the stem cells replace the bone marrow that has been destroyed by cancer or chemotherapy.
Stem cell donation is fully allowed by Islam, Buddhism and other common religions. Just like giving blood, donating stem cells is even encouraged by various imams, who think it a great form of charity.