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The Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC

Stem Cells & Marrow Donors
Donor Selection Process

Testing & Procedures

HLA-Match Testing

HLA testing to determine whether individuals are a good match only requires blood tests to be done. A bone marrow biopsy is not required. At the testing stage, the potential donor does not have to come to Vancouver. Testing can be performed at the donor's closest laboratory, and the blood will be sent by courier to Vancouver. The BMT Coordinators will arrange this and the Leukemia/BMT Program will cover all courier costs.

Potential donors, patients and families need to be aware that HLA test results may take up to three weeks to process. It is also important to note that the patient and donor may still be a good match, even if they do not share the same blood type. Blood type and HLA type are completely different.

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Preliminary Tests for Donors

All identified donors will need pre-collection diagnostic tests. These will include a screening blood test for hepatitis viruses and HIV (the AIDS virus), urine tests and a medical history and physical examination by a physician. For donors over 40 years of age, a chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram (ECG) are often done. Note that these tests can be done in the donor’s home town as long as the results are in English. Donors do not need to come to Vancouver for pre-collection tests unless there are specific tests required.

For donors having a bone marrow harvest, an anaesthetist will also see the donor upon his/her arrival in Vancouver to review his/her medical history, conduct a physical examination and to discuss the method of anaesthesia. Anaesthetic is usually a general but freezing from the chest down (spinal anaesthetic) can also be used.

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Stem Cell Collection or Bone Marrow Harvest Procedure

All stem cell collection or bone marrow harvest procedures must be done in Vancouver. So if a donor is found to be an HLA match and is asked to donate stem cells or bone marrow, he/she must come to Vancouver for the procedure. The Bone Marrow Transplant Co-ordinators’ office will be in touch with the donor to arrange this. The donor's health care costs relating to the collection of bone marrow/stem cells will be covered by the Province of British Columbia (except in exceptional circumstances). Unfortunately, travel, accommodations and living expenses will not be covered. These will be the donor’s responsibility.

For more information, please contact the Bone Marrow Transplant Co-ordinators office at 604-875-4863.

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