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‘Dramatic increase’ in bone marrow donor recruitment

There has been a “dramatic increase” in bone marrow donor recruitment since October, when the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) began inviting people to join the registry at the time of blood donation. The rise was discussed at an IBTS board meeting in February, minutes of which were obtained by the Medical Independent (MI) under Freedom of Information law.


A spokesperson for the IBTS told MI: “The IBTS changed the manner of bone marrow donor recruitment in October 2019. Donors are now invited to join the registry at the time of blood donation, when they complete the health and lifestyle questionnaire. “This new targeted recruitment has made it easy for donors to join the registry. It also targets younger donors who are the best match for patients who need a transplant.”


A total of 4,380 donors have joined the Irish Unrelated Bone Marrow Registry (IUBMR) since October 2019. This contrasts with the preceding years of 2016, 2017, and 2018 where 694, 404 and 360 donors were recruited respectively.


“These Irish donors will join an international community of over 37 million potential blood stem cell donors in registries worldwide.” Donations (blood stem cell and donor lymphocytes) from six Irish donors were facilitated in 2019, for national and international patients. In 2019, some 2,758 new volunteers gave blood samples to join the IUBMR, which will be added to the current registry of over 21,000 potential donors.


According to the IBTS, stem cell transplant can be a treatment option for more than 80 diseases and disorders, such as certain types of leukaemia or other potentially fatal blood disorders.

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