Be The Match® takes great care to make sure that the donated bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC), and cord blood on Be The Match Registry® meet the highest levels of medical safety standards. Talk to your transplant doctor about the safeguards that are in place to protect patients.
Be The Match wants to ensure that the donated marrow, PBSC, and cord blood we collect is as safe as possible for patients. Potential adult donors are screened at least 3 times:
- Before they join Be The Match Registry
- When they give a sample to confirm the match with the patient, and
- Before they donate to a patient.
All screening for cord blood units is done before they are made available for use.
Ensuring donor safety is also a top priority. The medical evaluations for donors also help to make sure that donation is as safe as possible for the donor, too.
Health questions for donors
Talk to your doctor if you have any safety concerns about donated bone marrow or cord blood. Your doctor will be able to answer any questions you have and make sure you feel comfortable with your treatment plan.
Be The Match Registry requires people interested in joining the Registry to answer a list of health questions to reduce risk to both the donor and patient. For patient safety, the questions address diseases that could be transmitted to the patient through transplant. For donor safety, the questions relate to donor medical conditions which could increase the risk of donation.
A health questionnaire similar to that taken by Be The Match potential registry members is completed by mothers who want to donate their baby's cord blood. The questions are designed to check for medical conditions that could be passed to a transplant patient through the cord blood. If the mother or other family member has any of these conditions, the cord blood unit may not be stored for possible transplant. Or, in some cases, the cord blood is stored with complete health information. A transplant doctor and patient can then decide whether or not to use that cord blood unit.
Screening for medical conditions
When a registry member is matched to a patient and agrees to donate, he or she is given a health exam. The exam includes a chest X-ray, an electrocardiogram (EKG) and urine and blood tests. Women of childbearing age are also given a pregnancy test.
Testing for infectious diseases
Adult donors are checked for a variety of infectious diseases at several points in the donation process. Blood samples from mothers who want to donate their baby's cord blood are also tested for signs of infection before the cord blood units are listed on the Be The Match Registry. Your transplant doctor receives a report of the infectious disease test results. Ask your doctor what the test results may mean for your treatment.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus. More than half the adults in the United States have had CMV virus. When people first come into contact with CMV they may feel like they have a cold. Healthy people are able to control CMV, but the virus remains hidden in the body.
CMV is a concern for transplant patients. After transplant, a patient's immune system is weak. The virus could become active again for patients who have CMV hidden in their body. The active virus can appear in the bloodstream, stomach and intestines, kidney or lungs. Symptoms of the active virus can be mild or severe.
Blood samples from donors and from mothers who want to donate cord blood are tested for CMV. Your transplant doctor receives the CMV test results. If test results show CMV, your doctor will decide whether to use that donor or cord blood unit. In some cases, a doctor may actually choose a donor who tests positive for CMV because of the donor’s immunity, or ability to fight off the infection.
If your doctor is choosing between 2 or more HLA matched donors, they may choose the donor or cord blood unit with the same CMV status as you. If you test positive for CMV, your doctor may pick a donor who tests positive for CMV. If you test negative, your doctor may pick a donor who also tests negative.
You are at risk for a CMV infection after transplant if either you, or your donor, test positive for CMV. If you are at high risk for CMV, your transplant doctor may give you medicine to help prevent CMV from becoming active. Another option is that your doctor may also test you frequently for active CMV so you can start treatment early if the CMV virus starts to become active again.
In additions to these safety standards, other steps are taken to protect patients and donors. Our Donor and Patient Safety Monitoring Committee study all the steps in the donation and transplant process. They watch for any unusual side effects for donors and patients, and also develop policies to ensure the process is safe. The committee includes doctors from transplant centers, donor centers and collection centers.