Finding A Donor
Finding a suitable stem cell donor can be challenging. With smaller family sizes, only 20 to 25 percent of patients have a matched family donor. The availability of an unrelated donor is closely tied to ethnicity. Overall the chances of finding a suitable match through the National Marrow Donor Program is about 70 percent. However, for patients with certain ethnic backgrounds the odds can be as low as ten percent.
Physicians at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital have developed treatment procedures to allow a partially matched parent to donate stem cells for patients with no matched sibling or unrelated donor. Although using partially matched stem cells has been attempted previously with mixed success, our physicians are hoping that graft rejection and the time it takes to rebuild the immune system will decrease with these new treatments.
Occasionally, a child can donate his or her own stem cells for use in a subsequent transplant procedure. Called an autologous transplant, the technique hinges on the physician’s ability to purge the stem cells of cancer or disease before transplanting them back into the patient.