Becoming a Donor

A Friendly Guide to Becoming a Bone Marrow Donor in the UK

Becoming a bone marrow donor can save lives and make a significant impact on someone's health and well-being. If you're considering becoming a donor in the UK, here's a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

Step 1: Check Your Eligibility

- Aged between 17 (minimum age) – 55 (maximum age)
- In general good health
- Body Mass Index (BMI) under 40
- Not previously registered with other Donor Centres: DKMS, Anthony Nolan, or Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry 
UK resident at a permanent address for two years minimum

Health conditions you can register with: 
- Enlarged thyroid or underactive thyroid
- Thyroid (hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis stable and symptom-free. NOT Graves’ disease
- Iron-deficiency anaemia, if treatable with iron supplement
- Hay fever, mild asthma, food allergy
- Basalioma and cervical carcinoma in situ, if fully removed
- Unipolar depression, mild depression, without any limitations in daily life; no previous manic episodes
- High blood pressure, stable and well-controlled.

Health conditions you cannot register with:
- Severe heart, lung or kidney diseases
- Severe illnesses of the central nervous system
- Severe mental health conditions
- Severe metabolic diseases
- Addictions: alcohol, drugs, tablets
- Severe tropical infectious diseases
- Infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, syphilis
- Systemic autoimmune diseases or other severe chronic illnesses, e.g. diabetes or
- Cancer, including being cancer-free, but having had cancer in the past
- Diseases of the haematopoietic system (blood disorders).

Step 2: Register as a Donor

- Enter your email address to receive more information. 
- Attending one of our in-person events you will complete a digital registration form.
- If there is no event taking place in a location close to you select 'no location' and we will send you details of how to get a kit sent to you at home. Alternatively, you can visit:

Step 3: Cheek Swab

When you receive the swab kit, either at the event or at home, carefully follow the instructions provided. 

1. Pressing firmly but not too hard swab the inside of your cheeks for 60 seconds each, switching sides after each. 
2. Hold them high and let them dry: Air dry the swabs for roughly 3-5 minutes before putting them back in the wallet, It's not the saliva but the cheek cells needed so be careful to not touch them on other surfaces.
3. Place the swabs back in the kit and seal it properly.
4. Hand it back to one of our lovely volunteers at our in-person events using the provided postage envelope. If ordered online, send it back in the provided envelope. 

Step 4: Tissue Typing
1. Once your cheek swab is received, your tissue type will be analysed and added to the registry.
2. Your details will be confidentially stored in a database, and your compatibility with potential recipients will be checked.

Step 5: Match Notification
1. If you're found to be a potential match for a patient in need, you'll be contacted by the registry. This is a crucial moment where your generosity can make a life-changing difference.
2. You'll be given more information about the recipient and the donation process.

Step 6: Medical Assessment
1. If you agree to proceed, you'll undergo a comprehensive medical assessment to ensure you're fit and healthy for the donation process.
2. This assessment may involve blood tests, physical examinations, and discussions with medical professionals.

Step 7: Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) Donation
1. The most common method of donation in the UK is through peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, which is non-surgical. This is the method used for 90% of donors.
2. Before the donation, you may receive injections of a medication called G-CSF for a few days. This helps increase the number of blood stem cells in your bloodstream.
3. On the day of the donation, your blood will be drawn through one arm, and the stem cells will be separated from the blood using a machine. The remaining blood will be returned to your other arm.
4. The process usually takes several hours and is done on an outpatient basis.

Step 8: Recovery and Aftercare
1. After the donation, you might experience some side effects like fatigue or mild discomfort, but these are generally temporary.

2. You'll be provided with aftercare instructions and contact information for any concerns.

Step 9: Making a Difference
1. Knowing that you've potentially saved a life through your donation can be incredibly rewarding.
2. Stay in touch with the registry and recipient if both parties agree to share information.

Step 10: Inspire Others
1. Share your experience with friends and family to encourage more potential donors to join the registry.
2. Your story can inspire others to make a life-changing decision too.

For more FAQ's on becoming a donor please check out the website:

Remember, becoming a bone marrow donor is a selfless act that can have a profound impact on someone's life. Your willingness to help could be the key to a patient's recovery and well-being.