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Donating stem cells to save a life, are you in?!

Date:20 June 2022
Why you should donate stem cells
Why you should donate stem cells

At Campus Fryslân we learn about a whole range of different inequalities, but what if a certain inequality threatens your life or those of your loved ones? You could safe the life of a patient with leukaemia or other severe blood disorder. Have you already registered as a stem cell donor? Read below to find out why it is crucial to do so! 

Patiens rely on donors in the global database

Patients with leukaemia or other sever blood disorders rely on stem cells to survive. However, stem cells have certain proteins called human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) that are different for everyone. The HLAs of the person receiving the stem cells must be the same to prevent rejection by the body. The chances of finding a stem cell donor within your family is only 30%, which is why many patients rely on donors in the global database. 

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This is where the Dutch foundation MATCHIS comes into play. This organisation, together with the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), registers people like you as stem cell donors and makes the matches between patients and donors. The difficulty here is that a lot of registered donors are necessary, because HLA types can vary widely and the odds that a patient finds a match with a random person outside of their family is only 1 in 50.000.  

You can help by registering as a donor and by talking about it with your (international) friends and family! 

Underrepresentation of ethnic minority groups

Ethnic minority groups are underrepresented in this database and therefore have a lower chance of finding a match. Although organisation ‘Be The Match’ is working hard to find everyone a donor, the likelihood of finding one ranges from 29% to 79% depending on ethnic background. 

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This can be explained by the fact that the stem cells in the donor bank are not ethnically diverse enough to find a match for all patients. HLA types have more similarities when people share the same evolutionary history, so especially people from outside North western Europe are encouraged to register!

Register now! (click here)

The percentages above are not just numbers, they determine life and death. A difference that should not be significant. So, what should you do? You can help by registering as a donor and by talking about it with your (international) friends and family! The more donors there are, the higher the chance that all patients are able to find a match.

You can easily register on the website of MATCHIS. You fill in the registration form and when it is save for you to become a donor you will receive a registration kit (swap saliva from your cheek) at home. Your HLA type will be determined in a laboratory and registered anonymously in a global database. If you match with someone in need of stem cells, MATCHIS will inform you about the procedure and perform a medical check. The stem cells will most likely be filtered from your blood in one or two days, and with little effort you have the opportunity to save someone’s life! 

Everyone deserves an equal chance. You might be that one person, that match… A sign of life in a desert, a patient’s last hope…

Tags: health