A bone marrow transplant is a complicated procedure. Any testing which goes wrong in the intel phases during matching of the donor with the patient might cost a life at the end in the later stages. This phenomenon of matching is done by the professionals involving doctors who analyze human leukocyte antigen markers present on the tissue or cells. There are several HLA markers which make every individual’s type unique and hence it can be identified with ease. For the persons who volunteer for being donors than their specific markers are registered with the organization and later such specific markers requirement for any patient can later be fulfilled by a particular registered donor.

How do you get tested for bone marrow match? 

HLA testing is done to analyze if a person is a good match or not and it is done via a series of blood tests and biopsy is not required for that. A bone marrow match testing can be easily done at any suitable lab registered for the same. If the test result matches with the patient than the further process of the donor are processed. Further pre-collection screening tests including a blood test for hepatitis virus, AIDS virus, urine tests, and past medical history of the donor is analyzed and assessed by the treating doctor of the patient to consider the donor as a suitable match or not. For the donors who are around 40 years of age or above a few additional tests like chest X-ray, ECG etc can also be recommended by the doctor to ensure the donor is completely healthy.

Why is a matched sibling the best donor for HLA?

A matched sibling turns out to be the best donors of bone marrow among all other options because it gives more chances of successful transplant being the closest possible match. It helps in quick engrafting of the donor cells and in turn, boosts the body for new blood cell formation once again.

HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigens) are basically the marker proteins present on almost all cells of the body. The immune system can recognize the cells from the HLA encoded over it. A matched sibling must possess 4 of the 6 markers for being a good match.

Related FAQs:

Q1: What is the age limit to be a bone marrow donor? 

A: Although there is no specific age to be a perfect bone marrow donor for any patient. However, there is an age group which is followed by the doctors for any donor prior BMT procedure can be done. So anyone between 18 to 60 years of age and can meet the health guidelines can willingly be a donor. A preferable age for a donor by the doctors is considered to be between 18 to 44 years and 86% of the donors who are selected belong in this age group. Moreover, several types of research have proved that younger the age of the donor better is the success and survival of the patient chances after the BMT procedure.

Q2: What is the chance of being a bone marrow match?

A: HLA matching bone marrow for a patient is more reliably found amongst the relatives like identical twins or siblings or even parents. However, the actual matching capacity of bone marrow can only be identified after a series of few tests.

Q3: Is it dangerous to donate bone marrow?

A: No, it is not dangerous to donate bone marrow or be a donor. Instead, several attempts are being made by creating awareness for making people register themselves for voluntary donors.  Since it helps in saving several lives by just donating bone marrow. Also, the medical advancement has reached a stage where stem cells can be obtained from the peripheral blood by a specific procedure and hence no insertion in bone and soreness is mandatory for every donor. Although, it might make the site of bone marrow little sore for a few days if the surgical method is used. But it recovers soon with very rare issues and on the other side stem cells obtained from peripheral blood might not require any specific recovery period even as only some amount of blood will be extracted from the person.