A Medical Professional's Guide to Unrelated Donor Stem Cell Transplants, Fourth Edition

Reviewer: Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN
Last Modified: February 23, 2003

Written by: The National Marrow Donor Program

Over the last 35 years, bone marrow and stem cell transplantation have moved from an experimental treatment to a widely accepted standard of care for many diseases. By the mid-1970s, the first unrelated donor transplant had been performed and physicians had learned the importance of HLA (human leukocyte antigen) matching in the success of these transplants. In 1979, Laura Graves was the first leukemia patient to undergo an unrelated donor transplant. Having experienced the difficulty of the search process back then, her family expressed the need for a donor registry. Their efforts, combined with those of other interested persons, prompted several states to form registries, but the need for a national database was evident. In 1984, with the encouragement of Mr. Graves and a group of physicians and families, Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act, which included language to evaluate unrelated marrow transplantation and the feasibility of establishing a national donor registry. In July 1986 the National Marrow Donor Program (originally called the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry) was born.

The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) is an international network of transplant, donor, collection and apheresis centers and cord blood banks. The mission of the NMDP is to extend and improve life, through innovative stem cell therapies, by maintaining the largest, most diverse registry of donors, serve as a resource to physicians and patients, and conduct research to improve the outcomes of marrow and stem cell transplants. The NMDP has developed A Medical Professional's Guide to Unrelated Donor Stem Cell Transplants as an educational tool for oncologists, hematologist, geneticists, and other referring health professionals to learn about the process of searching for a donor and the importance of the timing of this search.

This guide provides information on advances in the outcomes of stem cell transplant, diagnoses that are treatable by transplant, the importance of initiating a donor search early in the disease process, statistical data on outcomes by disease type and timing of transplant, statistics on the diversity of available donors, and a listing of NMDP transplant centers and contacts. This guide is a valuable resource to healthcare professionals who provide care to patients with diseases treatable by stem cell transplantation. In light of the improved outcomes when transplants are done earlier in the disease course, many referring physicians discuss the option of transplant with patients at an earlier stage. The NMDP can provide the resources for physicians and patients to effectively discuss a patient's options. The Medical Professional's Guide to Unrelated Donor Stem Cell Transplantation is available for download, or you can order a copy via the online form found on the NMDP website.

Want to present this data to your colleagues? The NMDP has developed a PowerPoint slide presentation, including all materials found in the guide, available for download on their website.

Do you require more information for your patients? Or are you a patient who would like information on a more basic level? The NMDP has information on all aspects of transplant available on their website. In 1991, the NMDP formed the Office of Patient Advocacy to provide support and information to patients and families going through the donor search and transplant process. To speak to with a patient advocate, call 1-888-999-6743 (Spanish speaking advocates are also available).


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