There is no need to look for a bone marrow donor in case you are undergoing a transplant by making use of your own blood stem cells. However, in case you are undergoing a transplant which needs cells from a donor, the transplant team will be working with you for finding a bone marrow match. It will not be possible for you to perform this search on your own. It is important for the blood stem cells of the donor to have identical genetic markers like that of yours. These markers are known as HLA or human leukocyte antigens.
Given that your HLA type is inherited by you from your parents, a sibling having identical biological parents is probably going to be the ideal donor. As a matter of fact, around 30% of the patients in the USA have a brother or sister who will be able to serve as the donor. Although your physician might be asking other members of the family to be tested, it is unlikely for them to be a flawless match.
A DNA test will be required for figuring out whether any member of the family is a match. It is possible to perform this by taking a blood sample or dabbing some cells from within the cheek. Following this, the sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing DNA. In case an individual is found to be an HLA-match, a comprehensive physical examination will be conducted for figuring out whether he or she will be able to become a healthy donor.
Finding an unrelated bone marrow donor
The transplant center will start searching for an unrelated donor in case it is not possible for a family member to become your donor. This search is going to consist of adult volunteer donors. The HLA type of prospective donors is going to be compared with that of yours for figuring out whether they will be able to become a perfect donor. The initial search might identify only a few potential matches as per your HLA type. The most hopeful candidates will be selected by the transplant physician for further tests.
Mismatched bone marrow donors
In case it is not possible to find a perfect match for you, you might be suggested by your physician to make use of a mismatched bone marrow donor. At present, mismatched donor transplants have become quite common, especially for individuals whose HLA types are rare.
A haploidentical transplant can also be recommended by your physician. It is actually a transplant which makes use of cells from a related bone marrow donor, for example, a child or a parent, who matches only half the HLA type of yours. More risk is involved with this type of transplant as compared to a transplant which makes use of blood stem cells from a donor who is properly matched. Nevertheless, this process has become comparatively safe with the invention of new techniques.
Other factors to consider while choosing a bone marrow donor
Despite the fact that HLA type is undoubtedly the most significant consideration while selecting a proper donor, other factors can also be considered by your physician which include the following:
- In case the donor is a female, then how many times she has become pregnant
- Health history
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