Organ, Tissue, and Bone Marrow Donation
From Mac Guides
Organ, Tissue, and Bone Marrow Donation
MacRumors encourages everyone who is eligible to take three important steps:
- Register to donate your organs and tissue after your death.
- Tell your family that this is what you want.
- Register to join your country's National Bone Marrow Registry.
Why? Because it saves lives. There's no gift you can give that's more valuable and more appreciated than the gift of life to someone in need. And you need to do these three steps only once for your entire life, to show that you are willing to save the lives of people who will die without your help.
This page summarizes information for potential donors. Because details differ from country to country, we welcome your help in maintaing the resources on this page.
MacRumors encourages everyone to sign up to donate their organs and tissue and to volunteer to be a bone marrow donor. It's easy, it's quick, and you can change your mind at any time. We also ask for your help to publicize the need for donations and encourage and support those who sign up. Once people learn how critical it is for people in need, they may be quite willing to step up.
Why organ and tissue donations are so important
There are many more people waiting for organs than there are organs available. Every day about 18 people die while waiting for an organ. A single organ and tissue donor can save up to 8 lives! Kidneys are most in demand, but you can also choose to donate your heart, liver, lungs, corneas, pancreas, intestines, skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, arteries, veins, and other organs and tissue. It's a very personal decision and it's up to you to decide what organs or tissue you are willing to donate when you can no longer use them yourself. It's not all or nothing; specify your specific wishes.
In the U.S. there are over 100,000 people on organ waiting lists. Steve Jobs' life was extended by the liver transplant he received in April 2009. What better way to honor his memory than to sign up as a donor yourself?
Why bone marrow donations are so important
You don't have to die to donate your bone marrow, but you have to be a tissue match for the recipient, typically a patient whose own bone marrow has failed and with the same ethnic/geographic background that you have. Bone marrow transplants save the lives of people with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, and other immune system and bone marrow disorders, as well as radiation poisoning. People with a matched sibling can be transplanted from their brother or sister, but 70% of patients do not have a matching family member. They need your help.
Because the donor and recipient must having matching tissue types (blood antigens), you may be the only person who is a match for a particular patient who would not otherwise survive their disease. That's why it's so important to register as many people as possible to give patients a chance of finding a match. Chances are that you'll never become a match and be asked to donate bone marrow, but wouldn't you like to have that chance if you were the only one who could save someone's life?
Registering to be an organ and tissue donor
Registering to be an organ and tissue donor is a simple process. No medical tests, just a form to fill out. In many countries it can be done while renewing your driver's license or by adding a sticker to your driver's license. In the U.S. it's handled by each state, in Canada by each province. In most countries it's an opt-in system; in a few countries it's an opt-out system.
For details see Organ and tissue donor information by country below.
Telling your family: A critical step
If you die, your family may be asked about your willingness to donate organs, even if you've previously signed up or have a sticker on your driver's license. You do not want the burden of this decision to fall on them, or for them to be unaware that you volunteered to donate organs or of which organs you said you would donate. Let them know, in person and on paper, so they'll know what to do if the time comes.
Some people also file a copy of their wishes with their primary physician or their local hospital as an extra guarantee that their wishes will be observed. It's a huge shame if organs are not donated simply due to a lack of paperwork.
Registering to be a bone marrow donor
Registering to be a bone marrow donor typically involves filling out a form and having your cheek swabbed, either in person at a bone marrow drive or treatment center, or using a mail-in kit. From the cells collected they can determine your tissue type and identify any patients who match you now or in the future.
Bone marrow registries are national lists of volunteer donors. The way to sign up varies by country.
For details see Bone marrow registration information by country below.
Organ donation is handled by medical professionals after your death and after consultation with your family. Your wishes will be observed; that's why your family needs to know which organs and tissue you decided to donate.
Even after you sign up for the Bone Marrow Registry, there is less than a 0.2% chance that you will match someone in need. But if you do, you may be the only person who can save that person's life.
Bone marrow donation is handled at a pair of hospitals, one for the donor (you!) and one for the recipient, who may live anywhere in the world. You can donate either bone marrow or stem cells. Bone marrow donation involves minor surgery under general or local anesthesia so bone marrow can be removed from your hip. You might be a bit sore for a day or two afterwards, and your body soon replaces the bone marrow. Stem cell donation is even easier: You are given an injection that moves some of your stem cells into circulating blood, and they are removed like a platelet or plasma donation. Side effects are minor.
Would you do this for a complete stranger who would otherwise die? Millions of people have registered to do so, but millions more are needed because the chances of tissue matches are so low for a given patient if their own siblings don't match them.
Almost everyone is eligible to donate at least some of their organs or tissue. Some people find it hard to think about their own death, or have cultural or religious issues with these types of donations, but everyone who is willing to register as a donor should do so.
Most adults are eligible to join their national bone marrow registry, although there are age limits and medical guidelines. That makes it all the more important that those who are eligible sign up.
Organ and tissue donor information by country
- Australia: The Organ and Tissue Authority
- British Columbia: BC Transplant
- Manitoba: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
- Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia Organ and Tissue Donation Program
- Québec: Québec-Transplant
- Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Health
- If you know of organ donation information for other provinces, please add it to this list.
- European Union: European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines (EDQM) (brochure)
- Germany: Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA)
- Ireland: Beaumont Foundation
- Italy: Associazione Italiana per la Donazione di Organi, Tessuti e Cellule (A.I.D.O.)
- Japan: Japan Organ Transplant Network (JOT)
- New Zealand: Organ Donation New Zealand
- Norway: Stiftelsen Organdonasjon
- Sweden: Swedish Council for Organ and Tissue Donation (Donationsrådet)
- U.K.: NHS Blood and Transplant
See also: funny video from the Mexican Red Cross.
Bone marrow registration information by country
- Armenia: Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry
- Australia: Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR)
- Austria: Austrian Bone Marrow Donors
- Belgium: Marrow Donor Program Belgium
- Brazil: National Register for Bone Marrow Donors (REDOME)
- China: Data Bank of Chinese Hematopoietic Stem Cell Donors (China Marrow Donor Program, CMDP)
- France: Registry France Greffe de Moelle (French Marrow Donor Registry)
- Germany: Deutsche Knochenmarkspendedatei (DKMS) and Zentrales Knochenmarkspender-Register Deutschland (ZKRD)
- Hong Kong: Hong Kong Bone Marrow Donor Registry
- Iran: Iranian Stem Cell Donor Program (ISCDP)
- Ireland: Irish Unrelated Bone Marrow Registry (IUBMR)
- Italy: Italian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (IBMDR)
- Japan: Japan Marrow Donor Program (JMDP)
- Korea: Korea Marrow Donor Program
- Mexico: Fundación Comparte Vida
- New Zealand: New Zealand Bone Marrow Donor Registry (NZBMDR)
- Nigeria: Bone Marrow Registry in Nigeria (BMRN)
- Pakistan: Pakistan Marrow Donor Registry
- Philippines: Human Organ Preservation Effort (H.O.P.E.)
- Portugal: Portuguese Bone Marrow Donors Registry (CEDACE)
- Singapore: Singapore Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP)
- South Africa: South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR)
- Sweden: The Tobias Registry
- Switzerland: Swiss Blood Stem Cells
- Thailand: The Thai Red Cross Society
- U.K.: Anthony Nolan Register, British Bone Marrow Registry, Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry (WBMDR)
- U.S.: National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), Caitlin Raymond International Registry, Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation
- MacRumors 2012 Blood Drive: Announcement, Blood Drive and Honor Roll
- MacRumors 2013 Blood Drive: Announcement, Blood Drive and Honor Roll