Fin­ding a Donor

After dia­gno­sing the con­di­ti­on, such as leuk­emia, the medi­cal team will attempt tre­at­ment by initi­al­ly admi­nis­te­ring che­mo­the­ra­py and pos­si­bly also radia­ti­on. If the pati­ent does not respond to the­se tre­at­ments, a stem cell trans­plant will be required.

A stem cell donor can be found in the imme­dia­te fami­ly (usual­ly a sibling) for rough­ly one third of all Ger­man pati­ents. An unre­la­ted donor must be found for the remai­ning two thirds. The search cen­ter will the­r­e­fo­re ask the ZKRD to per­form a search. The ZKRD recei­ves the patient’s medi­cal data, gene­ra­tes a list of sui­ta­ble donors using the Opti­Match® matching soft­ware, and for­wards this list to the search center.

Opti­Match® first­ly screens the data pro­vi­ded by around 26 donor cen­ters in Ger­ma­ny. If no poten­ti­al donor can be found in the natio­nal data­ba­se, the ZKRD extend the search bey­ond Germany’s bor­ders thanks to its links with inter­na­tio­nal regis­tries. Con­ver­se­ly, Ger­man donors may also be reques­ted by inter­na­tio­nal regis­tries and can thus be matched with pati­ents abroad. Today, the ZKRD has access to the data of more than 37 mil­li­on donors world­wi­de. Using the match list, doc­tors can ask for spe­ci­fic and more detail­ed tests in cer­tain donors, e.g. more accu­ra­te deter­mi­na­ti­on of their HLA cha­rac­te­ristics. The results will aid the sel­ec­tion of the most sui­ta­ble – ide­al­ly HLA-iden­ti­cal – donor.

Con­fir­ma­to­ry typing

As soon as a spe­ci­fic donor has been sel­ec­ted, the donor and pati­ent are com­pared once more by sen­ding the donor’s blood sam­ple to the trans­plant center’s labo­ra­to­ry, whe­re typ­ing is repea­ted. This is a safe­ty step cal­led “con­fir­ma­to­ry typ­ing.” Care is also taken to ensu­re that the donor has no ill­nesses which could be a risk to hims­elf or the pati­ent. The ZKRD sup­ports its part­ners throug­hout the search and sel­ec­tion pro­cess. It exami­nes, docu­ments and for­wards pati­ent-rela­ted requests and the test results to the respec­ti­ve faci­li­ties (search cen­ters, donor cen­ters, trans­plant cen­ters). To ensu­re the prompt detec­tion of incon­sis­ten­ci­es and avo­id­ance of errors, all the results are careful­ly checked.

Dura­ti­on of a donor search

Thanks to a wide­spread wil­ling­ness to dona­te stem cells, sui­ta­ble unre­la­ted donors can be found for half of Ger­man pati­ents within six weeks. The over­all suc­cess rate in fin­ding donors is more than 80%.

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