Every 27 seconds, a patient receives the devastating news that they have been diagnosed with blood cancer or a blood disorder. Their journey towards a possible cure begins, and for many, that cure lies in a stem cell transplantation. However, the odds of finding a matching stem cell donor are incredibly low, like finding a needle in a haystack. 50% of patients find their lifesaving donor in another country through the global database. This database is a lifeline for patients in need.
Currently, there are 41 million voluntary blood stem cell donors worldwide, which is just 0.5% of the world's population. A successful transplantation requires a matching donor with 10 matching HLA markers, 5 from the mother and 5 from the father, making it essential to find a donor with a similar ancestry. HLA matching is more challenging than blood matching, and ancestry plays a critical role in finding a suitable donor. Sadly, not all ethnic groups are represented equally.
As 50% of patients find their donor in another country, the global database is vitally important for providing patients with a life-saving stem cell transplantation. The World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), a non-profit organisation operate the global database and provide support, training to search coordinators. By investing in the support of the users and in the database itself, we can reduce the time it takes for a patient to find a matching donor and increase the odds of finding a donor.
HLA matching is more difficult than blood matching. Your ancestry plays an important role in whether you will find someone who matches your HLA. In the US alone, it is estimated that only 29% of Black or African American patients with find a matching stem cell donor and only 47-48% of Asian, Pacific Islanders, Hispanic or Latino patients will find a matching stem cell donor. We believe that diversity in the global database is key to improving the odds and outcomes for so many patients.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).