Help Save Mylz

Baby Mylz is only 1 ½ years old and has been diagnosed with leukemia. His doctors say the only cure is a bone marrow transplant. Please help find a lifesaving donor for Mylz and join the registry by ordering a cheek swab kit.

Join Now

Dire Need for Diversity

PERCENTAGE ABLE TO FIND A MATCHING DONOR

Educational Videos

Walter Bond
Former NBA Player and Leukemia Advocate
Kimberly Carr, PhD, MPH
Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center Community Resource Specialist
Kyra Mitchell
NAACP National Youth Work Committee Chair
Greggory (L) saved Marcus’ life

About Gift of Life

At Gift of Life we believe every person battling blood cancer deserves a second chance at life — and we are determined to make it happen.

We are singularly passionate about engaging the public to help us get everyone involved in curing blood cancer, inherited immune disorders and other diseases. Whether as a donor, a volunteer or a financial supporter, you can save lives.

It begins with one remarkable person, one life-changing swab and one huge win – finding a match and a cure.

About Donation

Why Do You Need Me?

For some patients suffering from life-threatening diseases such as leukemia and other blood cancers, their only option for a cure and survival is a marrow transplant. Some patients have a family member who can donate, but in 70% of cases a volunteer donor is required. The Gift of Life Marrow Registry recruits donors like you who are willing to donate to patients with a matching tissue type.

How Do I Join the Marrow Registry?

Today you can take the first step in the process by registering to join the marrow registry. Once your swab kit arrives you will give a quick and painless cheek swab, complete a form and give your consent. We will test the cheek swab and add your tissue type to the registry, which is searched by hospitals worldwide.

What if I’m Called as a Match

Someday you may be lucky enough to be called upon to help a patient in need. If so, you will be asked to take a simple blood test to confirm your tissue type is a match and a physical to make sure you are healthy enough to donate. If everything checks out, you will be asked to donate in one of the following two ways listed below.

Donating Stem Cells

80% of donors will give peripheral blood stem cells from their circulating blood. To obtain enough cells for transplant, a donor is given injections of Filgrastim that stimulate large quantities of stem cells to mobilize from the bone marrow into the circulating blood. You can donate at Gift of Life’s state-of-the-art collection center or a hospital or clinic. You will be connected to an apheresis machine for about 4–5 hours while the stem cells are harvested. In rare cases the collection may take place over two days.

Donating Bone Marrow

20% of people donate bone marrow which is found in the hollow cavities of large bones. It is withdrawn from the pelvic bone in an area called the iliac crest. The bone marrow is collected as an outpatient procedure in a hospital operating room under general anesthesia. Marrow regenerates completely within four to six weeks. Donors usually go home after the donation and should anticipate taking a few days off after the collection to recover.

Myths

Myth 1. Once you sign up, you have to donate

The truth is that donating bone marrow or stem cells is purely voluntary. If you are between 18 and 35 and in good health, you can join the registry, but the chances of being called are fairly low. That doesn’t mean it’s not important to register – you could get the opportunity to save someone’s life, which is rather incredible. You can expect to change someone else’s life, but what most donors don’t expect is how meaningful donating is to them. Saving another person is big stuff.

Myth 2. Only a family member can donate to a patient in need

Most people believe that only a patient’s family members can donate to them, but the opposite is true. Only about 30 percent of patients find a donor within the family. The other 70 percent must seek an unrelated donor in the worldwide registry. If no donor is found, they often run drives to recruit new donors in the hope of finding a match. The best chance of a match is with someone from the same genetic heritage, so it’s incredibly important that more people of diverse background and mixed race join the registry. Click here to learn more about the need to diversify the registry.

Myth 3. Donating bone marrow or stem cells is dangerous

One of the biggest myths about marrow donation is that it’s painful and dangerous, requiring an invasive surgery. The truth is that there are two methods of donating, and both are outpatient procedures with no long-term side effects.

The most frequently used method, about 80% of the time, is peripheral blood stem cell donation. The donor spends four to six hours in a comfortable chair or bed, while blood is drawn from one arm, the needed stem cells are separated out and the remaining blood is returned to the other arm. Donors can watch movies or chat with friends during the process, and go home when it is finished.

The 20% who donate bone marrow, most often requested for children, can expect a one-and-a-half to two-hour procedure. While under general anesthesia, a doctor will collect liquid marrow from the iliac crest of the hip bone using a syringe. Donors go home after the anesthesia wears off, and may feel a backache for several days, treatable with Tylenol or similar medications. There is no long-term recovery and donors resume a normal routine in one to three days. Your bone marrow and stem cells grow back on their own, and your recipient gains a second chance at life.

Myth 4: My personal information could be shared

With the huge popularity of genealogical DNA testing, many people wonder if Gift of Life shares any information with other organizations. Your information is protected by the same regulations that your own doctor complies with. We test for specific factors that show whether you could be a perfect immune system match for a patient, and this data is confidential. Your name does not appear in the worldwide marrow registry; only Gift of Life knows your identity.

Myth 5: You're going to clone me!

Well, there’s one more myth that a lot of people ask us about at the swabbing table when they join the registry: Are you going to clone me? Most of them are joking, but we are asked so often that we’d like to address it. First of all, human cloning has never been done, and due to the way the nucleus of human cells is structured, will likely remain impossible for many years to come. Even if scientists someday discover a process, creating just one clone would cost many millions of dollars. We hate to disappoint everyone, but cloning you just isn’t in our budget!

What Happens When I Join?

Joining the registry is fast and easy. Simply answer a few questions and we’ll have your Swab Kit in the mail in no time. Once it arrives, follow the instructions in the kit and swab the inside of your cheeks, enter your information on the kit where indicated, and and return your Swab Kit in the pre-paid envelope. See the process below:
Register Online
Answer a few questions to determine if you qualify to join the registry.
Swab Your Cheek
Your swab kit arrives via mail. Please follow instructions and mail it back to us.
Become a Match
Sometime in the future you may be a lifesaving HLA match for a patient in need.
Save a Life
If called, you will either donate stem cells or bone marrow. You may be a patient’s only hope for survival.
Join Now