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5,000 new stem cell donors by September 2020

Jack Jacobsen

More than 600 Australians have a potentially life-saving stem cell transplant each year and of those needing a matched unrelated donor, more than 80% of their donors are sourced overseas. 

While almost a third of bone marrow transplant recipients find a match within their family, for the remaining 70%, the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (the Registry) matches patients to unrelated donors, both in Australia and around the world.

Unfortunately, some people miss out because they can’t find a suitable donor.

An allogeneic transplant is a potentially life-saving or curative therapy for several types of blood cancer including non-Hodgkin lymphomaMDSAML and ALL.

Currently, the Registry can’t meet the needs of Australian patients requiring an allogeneic stem cell transplant. And, with less than 5% of registered Australian donors being considered ideal (aged 18-30 and generally male), most donors are being sourced from overseas, mainly Germany and the U.S.

There is an urgent need for new donors to meet demand and to help recruit new donors and increase awareness, the Leukaemia Foundation has partnered with the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) for a 12-month trial which runs until September 2020.

We will assist the Registry to achieve its goal of adding 5,000 new Australian donors, aged 18-30, to the registry by September 2020.

Supporting people living with blood cancer through the transplant process and providing information and education on stem cell transplants is an important part of the Leukaemia Foundation’s services. This partnership enable us to pursue opportunities to improve donor matches and increase the pool of viable donors.

Younger donors result in better outcomes for patients, hence the need for 18-30 year-olds to register, which increases the chances of finding the best possible match.

Ethnic diversity is also important as patients are more likely to find a match with a donor from the same ethnic background.

And young men make particularly important donors as they often weigh more, so they literally have more (stem cells) to give!  But this group only makes up 4% of donors on the registry.

To add someone to the Registry’s database and potentially result in saving someone’s life, it takes just five minutes to do the initial screening, through a cheek swab.

Go to and register – answer a few questions and wait for your swab kit to arrive – easy!

Last updated on June 25th, 2024

Developed by the Leukaemia Foundation in consultation with people living with a blood cancer, Leukaemia Foundation support staff, haematology nursing staff and/or Australian clinical haematologists. This content is provided for information purposes only and we urge you to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis, treatment and answers to your medical questions, including the suitability of a particular therapy, service, product or treatment in your circumstances. The Leukaemia Foundation shall not bear any liability for any person relying on the materials contained on this website.