No matter where you live, your country’s national registry is linked to the international database. So even if you donate in South Africa, you could save someone’s life in, say, America.
- Be between 18 and 45 years old
- Understand that you’ll remain on the registry until your 50th birthday
- Be in good health
- Meet the height/weight requirements
- Complete a blood test
- Be willing to give to anyone, anywhere, at anytime
HOW TO SAVE A LIFE IN 5 EASY STEPS
Head over to your national stem cell donor registry website. Answer a few quick questions about your age and general health.
Swab your cheeks
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be sent a free swabbing kit in the mail. Follow the instructions, and don’t forget to send it back!
Alternatively, your local registry might call to schedule a blood test.
Wait for a match
When you join your local registry, you automatically become part of the international donor database. This means you could be matched with someone anywhere in the world.
If you do get the call (which could be in 10 months or 10 years), you might be the only person with the power to save that patient’s life. It’s a big responsibility, but don’t worry, you’ll be guided every step of the way.
Get ready to donate
After a few routine tests to make sure you’re a healthy, compatible match, you’ll be asked to choose between two donation methods.
OPTION 1: Peripheral blood stem cell donation
This is the most common way to donate. A few days before the donation, you’ll receive injections that kick your bone marrow into high gear so it produces extra stem cells.
On the day of the donation, you’ll be hooked up to a machine that draws blood from one arm, filters out those extra stem cells, and then returns your blood to the other arm. The process takes about four to six hours, but you’re welcome to bring a laptop, book or anything else to pass the time.
OPTION 2: Bone marrow donation
This surgical procedure involves drawing liquid marrow (which is packed with stem cells) directly from your pelvic bone. Don’t worry though, you’ll be under anesthesia so you won’t feel a thing! The procedure lasts 45 to 90 minutes, and most donors only report feeling sore and fatigued for a few days.
Save someone's life
About 24 to 36 hours after you donate, a patient somewhere in the world will receive your healthy cells. They’ll have a long road to recovery ahead of them, but you can bet they’ll be grateful for a second chance at life.
Meanwhile, you’ll be back to your usual routine within a few days, your body will replace your donated stem cells within six weeks, and you can be proud of what you’ve done for the rest of your life.