How a donor search is carried out

Once your swab has been analysed and you have become active on the donor register, what happens next?

1. Family search for a related donor

The first search is within the patient’s family because their siblings are possible related donors. As your tissue type (HLA) is inherited, there is a 30% chance that the patient’s siblings share the same HLA characteristics and are a suitable match.

2. Local and global search carried out by search units

If no family match is found, an unrelated donor search is carried out. This process is performed by a search coordinator of a ‘Search Unit’ who aims to find the best possible matching donor. The search coordinator will always check the national pool of donors first, however, the global pool of donors will also be targeted in finding the most suitable donor for the patient. Generally the search itself is quick, but in some cases a suitable donor is not on the register.

3. Final report

The search coordinator provides an initial report of possible unrelated donors for the patient, however the decision of which donors to contact will ultimately be made by the patients clinical team.

4. On standby

All of our donors are in a state of being on standby following their initial registration, and may be ‘called into action’ at any time to be notified that they are a match for someone. This call may happen soon after their registration, in years, or not at all. The patient search will continue behind the scenes by each dedicated search unit every time a new patient is determined as needing an unrelated donor.

If you’ve already registered, DKMS could contact you one day, and you’ll then have the chance to save someone’s life!

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