Who We Are - About the National Marrow Donor Program
Creating connections. Saving lives.The National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP) and our Be The Match Foundation® are nonprofit organizations dedicated to creating an opportunity for all patients to receive the bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant they need, when they need it.
Our MissionEvery year, thousands of people of all ages are diagnosed with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases. Many of them will die unless they get a bone marrow or cord blood transplant from a matching donor. Seventy percent of people do not have a donor in their family and depend on our Be The Match Registry® to find a match to save their life.
Our storyWhen their 10-year-old daughter Laura was diagnosed with leukemia, Robert Graves, D.V.M., and his wife Sherry were ready to do anything they could to save her. They agreed to try a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor — the first ever for a leukemia patient.
Laura received her transplant in 1979 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The treatment gave her an extra year and a half of life.
And it inspired Dr. Graves to launch a quest to create a national registry of volunteers willing to donate bone marrow. His early efforts brought together other patient families and transplant doctors, spurring a federal mandate that led to the creation of the National Marrow Donor Program. We began connecting patients with unrelated donors in 1987 with a registry of just 10,000 volunteers.
TodayOur registry — now called the Be The Match Registry — has grown to 9 million donors and nearly 145,000 umbilical cord blood units, the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse registry of its kind in the world.
Medical advances are making marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants available to more patients all the time. Since we began operations in 1987, we have facilitated more than 43,000 transplants to give patients a second chance at life. Today, we facilitate more than 5,200 transplants a year.
As a leader in the field of marrow and cord blood transplantation, we work every day to connect patients, doctors, donors and researchers to the resources they need. To help people of every racial and ethnic background live longer, healthier lives, we:
- Offer people the unique opportunity to save a life through Be The Match
- Add more members and donated umbilical cord blood to our Be The Match Registry every day
- Support patients with resources and services to reduce barriers to transplant and improve their quality of life after transplant
- Educate doctors about transplant advances and patient care post transplant
- Conduct and support cutting-edge research to advance the science of transplant
- Help any eligible family who may benefit from a related donor cord blood transplant
- Develop innovative tools, systems and services so we can continue to increase the number of patients we serve
Building for the futureMany more patients still need our help. We are working to meet this need, but we can’t do it alone. Our efforts are sustained by:
- A Network relationships with donor centers, transplant centers, cord blood banks, and registries in more than 40 countries
- Agreements with cooperative donor registries and cord blood banks worldwide through which we provide patients access to nearly 16.5 million donors and nearly 550,000 cord blood units
- The U.S. government, which has entrusted us to operate the C. W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program, the federal program supporting bone marrow and cord blood donation and transplantation
- Partnerships with corporations, service organizations, student groups, faith-based communities and other organizations
- People like you
Get involved. Help save a life.
- LifeJourneys Transplant Community — read tributes to patients and donors and make a contribution
Click on the link above to see the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute main page!
Join the Marrow Donor Program
Frequently Asked Questions
clinician with donor
Can't find an answer to your question? Ask our experts directly.
Can I get tested for a specific patient (i.e., family member or friend)?
The Be The Match RegistrySM of The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) is a registry of unrelated potential donors willing to help any patient they might match. If you are interested in having your results passed on to a specific person in addition to joining the Be The Match Registry, we can get you a copy of your results.
If you are interested in being tested only for a specific friend or family member, a private testing company (for a fee) will test your blood and pass the results onto a specific patient. Dana-Farber's donor center can help you locate a private testing center.
I've already been tested for a family member and would like my results added to the NMDP's Be The Match Registry. How can I do this?
If you have been tested for a specific relative and would also like to be available to give hope to others in need of a transplant, you may join the NMDP's Be The Match Registry..
You must meet the eligibility guidelines for an unrelated donor, provide us with a copy of your test results (if you were tested at Dana-Farber, we can obtain these results for you), and sign a consent form to join the Registry.
How can I verify that I am on the NMDP’s Be The Match Registry?
Please contact us or visit https://www.marrow.org/CONTACT/verification_registry_status.html to confirm your registration.
Why does a person have to be 18 to be a donor?*
NMDP standards require that volunteer marrow donors be between the ages of 18 and 60. This is standard medical practice. An individual must be 18 to donate marrow stem cells because it is a voluntary procedure that may involve surgery. The person undergoing the procedure must be able to give his or her informed consent.
A guardian or parent is not able to sign a release or give consent because unrelated marrow donation is a voluntary procedure and is not beneficial or lifesaving to the donor. Because the patient's physician may request either a marrow donation procedure (which is considered surgery) or a blood-cell donation, a volunteer must be medically eligible for both procedures.
What is bone marrow donation?Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure that takes place in an operating room. During the marrow donation, which requires anesthesia, you will be lying on your stomach. Generally, the doctors make several (typically one to six) small incisions through the skin over the posterior pelvic bones. The incisions are less than one-fourth inch long and do not require stitches. The doctors will insert a special hollow needle through these incisions over the rear of the pelvic bone. A syringe is attached to the needle to draw out the marrow
What is the difference between marrow and PBSC donation?Unlike marrow donation, PBSC donation is a non-surgical procedure, and does not require anesthesia. Marrow donors may experience pain and residual stiffness up to a few weeks after the procedure. PBSC donors experience symptoms such as bone pain and muscle pain prior to the donation while receiving filgrastim (also referred to as G-CSF), the drug used to increase the release of blood-forming cells from the bone marrow, but these symptoms go away within 24 hours of donation.
What are the costs for donating?There is no cost to the donor for donation. The patient's insurance company will be responsible for all medical charges related to the donation process.
Your generosity as a bone marrow or stem cell donor could help a patient win his or her battle with cancer. Stem cell and bone marrow transplantation provide a potential cure for patients with primary bone marrow failure or with malignancies of the bone marrow and lymph nodes, such as leukemia and lymphomas.
If you are in good health, between the ages of 18 and 60, and would like to become a potential donor, please contact:
The Be The Match RegistrySM of the National Marrow Donor Program at DF/BWCC
Phone: (617) 632-2561 or (866) 875-DFCI (3324)