How might we increase the number of registered bone marrow donors to help save more lives?

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OpenIDEO has partnered with the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University to explore new ideas for encouraging bone marrow donation worldwide. Together we’re asking you, the OpenIDEO community, to help us find ways to expand the global network of potential bone marrow donors and support people who are battling leukemia and other blood cancers.

Bone marrow transplants are one type of treatment for leukemia and other blood or bone marrow cancers. This OpenIDEO challenge will complement the efforts of 100K Cheeks, a Stanford-based advocacy group dedicated to increasing the number of people enrolled in bone marrow registries worldwide. Certain populations are dramatically under-represented in existing bone marrow registries. For example, the match rate within the South Asian* demographic is critically low—with a 1 in 20,000 chance for a potential recipient to find a match.

For more information about bone marrow donation (including the process, myths, and facts), visit If you’re interested in becoming a donor, you can look up the registry in your country here.

*South Asia refers to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan & Sri Lanka

We gratefully acknowledge the following organizations for their significant support in making this program possible:

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Photo of Eva

You gotta do away with the SCARY, INCORRECT, and OUTDATED term "bone marrow donation". Nowadays, donors donate *stem cells* from their blood. They do not donate marrow! By using this incorrect term in your challenge you reinforce the notion of "bone marrow" donation as a scary, major procedure. It is not. In the old days, hematopoietic stem cells could only be derived from marrow, and hence marrow donations were necessary. Nowadays, the same stem cells can be derived from a donor's blood, and hence the donor is only donating blood, not marrow!! This is the first misconception that should be cleared up in potential donors. Also, no recipient ever receives "bone marrow". Even in the old days recipients only received stem cells derived from donated marrow. Since now the cells come from blood, not marrow, virtually all donations now are blood donation via an apheresis machine that filters out stem cells from a donor's blood and returns the blood to the donor.

Photo of Shristi

25% of time marrow be may derived. I think it depends on what the physician says is best for the patient. or this was what written on Be the Match and various other websites. Also, the doctor I consulted for my cousin's case said stem cells is done 75% and marrow is 25. However, if the physician says Marrow drive is absolutely necessary then this process is done. What folks need to know is, process itself won't hurt because they will be put under sedation since it's surgical procedure. Risks after the process is always possibility with stem cells as well as marrow donation.

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