Drive FAQ


Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a life threatening blood disorder. Every 9 minutes, someone dies, which is 160 people each day. Patients are searching for a cure. It could be someone you know. Join us in the fight against blood cancer. 

Patients need donors who are a genetic match (HLA). Even with a registry of millions, many patients cannot find a match. Donors with diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds are under represented and you can help to balance the registry numbers of ethnic diverse groups.

SAMAR has partnered with DKMS an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fight against blood cancers and disorders. We have a common mission to take action for life threatening blood diseases and aim to provide a donor for every patient in need of a cure. SAMAR focuses on registering all committed life-saving donors, from Caucasians and other ethnically diverse communities.

A blood stem cell transplant is a life-saving treatment for patients diagnosed with  leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening blood diseases like sickle cell disease and thalassemia. First, patients undergo chemotherapy and sometimes radiation to destroy their diseased marrow. Then a donor’s healthy blood-forming cells are given directly into the patient’s bloodstream, where they can begin to function and multiply.
For a patient’s body to accept these healthy cells, the patient needs a donor who is a genetic (HLA) match. Seventy percent of patients do not have a donor in their family and you could be a match for one of them. 

Registrants must be between 18 and 55 years and in good general health. You will however be on the registry till the age of 61. The Medical Evaluation will determine your eligibility. If you are medically deferred and ineligible to be added to the registry, you will be given the opportunity to support the mission by coordinating a registration event or making a financial donation.

There are no travel restrictions to register.

HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigens) are markers that are tested on the surface of white blood cells. HLA forms the basis for recognizing and rejecting foreign tissues i.e. it recognizes self from nonself. HLA genes are inherited and play an important part in matching. Therefore a genetically (HLA) matched donor greatly increases the likelihood of a successful transplant.

Racial and ethnic heritage are very important factors. The greatest chance of finding a matched blood stem cell donor exists within the patient’s own racial group. Therefore, currently it is a challenge for us to registry members of diverse racial and ethnic heritage. We are forming alliances and partnerships with many organizations in the U.S. to increase the number of registrants with the focus on diverse ethnic groups. Adding more diverse members increases the likelihood that all patients will find a life-saving match.

You can request to conduct stem cell registry drives at various venues, including conferences, conventions, corporate offices as lunch and learns, religious institutions, university/college campuses, birthday & anniversary parties, picnics or even at a private residence.

There is a convenient availability for you to register online from anywhere by following the link http://DKMS.org/SAMAR

SAMAR/DKMS will provide all the materials needed, free of charge and train you and your volunteers, to become SAMAR team member. 

If you are a preliminary match you will be contacted to confirm you are willingness to donate and to answer your questions. Your health will be assessed to meet the standards for donation. The representative will schedule a blood work appointment at a local lab. The blood work is for a confirmatory testing and infectious disease markers to make sure you do not have any illnesses that can be passed along to the patient.

If the confirmatory test determines the compatibility with the patient, the donor goes through a counseling session with an extensive explanation of the donation procedure. A complete physical examination is performed to ensure that the prospective donor is medically eligible to donate. The donor has to make a final commitment to proceed with the donation. Arrangements are made for the actual collection only after the donor has made a final decision to donate and has passed the physical exam.

The patient’s doctor will determine which source of blood stem cells is best for the patient and decide on the Marrow Donation or the Peripheral Blood Stem Cell donation.

Marrow Donation: This is a surgical outpatient procedure that takes place at a hospital. You will receive anesthesia and feel no pain during the extraction.. Doctors use a needle to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of your pelvic bone (hip bone). The marrow replaces itself completely within four to six weeks. Your body is not affected by the missing marrow. This procedure is done about 20-25% of the time.

Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC): This is a nonsurgical procedure that takes place at a blood donor center or outpatient hospital unit. For five days leading up to donation, you will be given injections of a drug called Filgrastim to increase the number of blood-forming cells in your bloodstream. Your blood is then removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to you through the other arm. The procedure is done about 75-80% of the time.

More than 100,000 unrelated donor-patient transplants have been performed in the United States. To date there have been no reported long term adverse effects to any donor.
After anesthesia subsides, Marrow Donors can expect to feel some soreness in the region where the procedure took place for a few days.

PBSC Donors may experience a headache, bone/muscle aches, fatigue and nausea which are common side effects of the Filgrastim injection. These effects disappear shortly after collection.

There is NO COST to the registrant for enrolling in the registry.

There is no cost to the donor. Medical examinations and hospital expenses are paid by the recipient’s insurance.

In most cases, the donor will not have to travel to the location of the patient to donate. The procedure will be done at a transplant center closest to the donor which might include minimal travel. All costs will be covered.

Confidentiality is very important to SAMAR/DKMS. Your status as a donor will never be disclosed to anyone including immediate family members as well as the contacts you listed unless authorized by you.

We understand that family members can greatly influence a donor’s choice of whether or not to donate. Educate your family members about the process and how important the transplant is for a patient. SAMAR can set up meetings with Donors, Recipients and Family Members if this will assist the decision making process.

Time is critical for the patient. If you are unsure even at the registration process, please take the time you need to make an informed and committed decision. If you are unwilling or unable to donate, or you are not sure of your commitment and come up as a preliminary match, please tell the representative during the initial call. You have the right to decide but, the later in the process the decision, the more detrimental it can be to the patient.

Donating marrow is a very personal choice and for some religious beliefs, it plays an important role in their decision. The following links provide more information about what different religions say about organ and tissue donation:

http://www.organdonor.gov/about/religiousviews.html 

You may register yourself as a marrow donor; however, you will be temporarily deferred until you have fully recovered. If you have already registered and were pregnant at the time of registration, please update your information once you have delivered and are fully recovered.

If you have been called as a possible match and are currently breastfeeding, you may want to contact your local donor center to discuss your options.

If you are currently pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, please consider donating your baby’s umbilical cord blood after your baby is born.

The confidentiality of both donors and patients is very important to SAMAR/DKMS. Prior to donation, you will only be told the age and sex of the patient as well as the disease affecting him or her. In most cases, direct contact between donors and patients is allowed one year after transplant if both parties agree. Some transplant centers may allow anonymous communication prior to direct contact. However, some countries do not allow for contact between patient and donor.

The age guidelines are in place to protect donors and provide the best treatment for patients:
• Donor safety: As one ages, the chances of a hidden medical problem that donation could bring out increases, placing older donors at increased risk of complications. Since there is no direct benefit to the donor when they donate, for safety reasons we have set age 60 as the upper limit. It is important to note that the age limit is not meant to discriminate in any way.
• To provide the best treatment for the patient: Research shows that cells from younger donors lead to more successful transplants. That’s because younger donors produce  higher-quality cells than older donors.

An individual must be 18 to donate because donation is a medical (for PBSC donation) or surgical (for marrow donation) procedure and the individual must legally be able to give informed consent. A parent or guardian cannot sign a release or give consent for someone under age 18.

We need committed, lifesaving, compassionate donors! A large percentage of donors are saying no when matched, which has detrimental effects on patients.

When you register with SAMAR/DKMS, you make a commitment to:

  • Be listed on the registry until your 61st birthday, unless you ask to be removed
  • Consider donating to any searching patient who matches you
  • Keep us updated if your address changes, you have significant health changes, or you change your mind about being a donor
  • Respond quickly if you are contacted as a potential match for a patient

Unfortunately, 50% of donors who match a patient in critical condition are not committed and say no. Donating is always voluntary.

If you are unable to donate, let us know right away https://webforms.dkms.org/en/US/addressupdate/. That way we can continue the search for another donor without dangerous delays for the patient.

We hope we have answered many of your questions. The next step is up to you. Thank you for taking the time to consider this very important step and potentially registering as a committed and lifesaving blood stem cell/marrow donor.