The National Marrow Donor Program® works with its network of centers to collect and transport donated cells to patients for bone marrow and cord blood transplants (also called BMTs). We, and our centers, follow processes designed to ensure donated cells are safe for transplant patients. Some of the steps include:
- Before you begin your preparative regimen, a fresh blood sample from the donor or a sample stored with the cord blood unit is tested one more time. This is to double-check that the HLA tissue type matches yours.
- Before you begin your preparative regimen, donor center and transplant center doctors review the results of infectious disease blood tests for the donor or cord blood unit to check for diseases that could harm you. (Infectious disease tests are done on blood samples from the mother who donated her baby's cord blood unit before it is stored.)
- We transport the donated cells to your transplant center. Cells from adult donors are transported using trained couriers. Cord blood units are shipped by specialized carriers.
- When the donated cells arrive, your transplant center tests a blood sample from the donor or cord blood unit for its blood group (A, B, AB or O) and Rh factor (positive or negative). This is to double-check that the cells are from the correct donor.
- If the donor's blood group is different than yours, the plasma or red blood cells are filtered out before you receive the donated cells. This prevents a transfusion reaction, which can be a serious complication. (You will also receive drugs to prevent a reaction.)
- Some transplant centers also remove some of the T cells from the donated cells. T cells are a type of white blood cell (part of the immune system) that can cause a complication called graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Your transplant doctor can tell you whether or not the T cells will be removed for your transplant and explain the reasons why.