When you join the Be The Match Registry®, you will be asked questions about your health history. These questions help determine whether you are eligible to donate bone marrow or other blood-forming cells.
They are meant to protect the health of both patients and potential donors. Some diseases and illnesses can be transferred from donors to transplant recipients and could be fatal to the recipients. In addition, some medical conditions could make donation riskier for the donor.
Before joining the Be The Match Registry, you are asked a series of questions to help identify any health reasons that may make you ineligible to become a donor. These questions do not include every situation that would make a person ineligible to join the registry or to donate.
If you are ever called as a match for a patient, you will undergo a thorough health history and physical exam to ensure it is safe — for both you and the patient — for you to donate.
Below is a list of the health history questions you may be asked when you join the Be The Match Registry. Each question is followed by an explanation. If you want to discuss your answers to any of these health questions, contact us at 1 (800) MARROW2 (1-800-627-7692).
Are you between the ages of 18 and 60?
Eighteen is the age of legal consent. You are eligible through your 60th year until your 61st birthday. The upper age limit was established to reduce the risk of donor complications. (For more information about the age guidelines, see the FAQs about Joining the Registry.)
Are you in good general health?
This question allows you to make an overall summary of your general health. Certain diseases, such as Thalassemia/Sickle Cell diseases or autoimmune disease, can be transmitted from donors to transplant recipients. If you state that you are not in good health, the local Be The Match representative must evaluate the reason to determine whether you can join the registry.
Are you at risk for HIV (the AIDS virus) or hepatitis?
If you are at risk for HIV (the AIDS virus) or hepatitis, you cannot be a donor.
Have you ever been refused as a blood donor or had problems donating blood?
This question is asked to determine if you may have been refused for reasons of the potential for disease transmission. If the reason you were unable to donate blood was low blood count, low weight or low blood pressure, you may still be eligible to donate cells for transplantation.
Have you ever had a serious illness such as cancer, diabetes, heart or lung disease (incuding heart surgery and/or stroke), convulsions, chest pains, asthma or shortness of breath?
You are not eligible to be a donor if you have insulin-dependent diabetes. However, you are eligible to join if your diabetes is controlled by diet. You are also eligible to join if:
If you have not had an asthmatic episode in five years and are not on medication, you are eligible.
- You have had simple basal cell (skin cancer) cancer or cervical cancer in-situ
- You have mitral valve prolapse
- You have irregular heartbeat not requiring medication
- You have exercise-induced asthma
Have you ever had neck, back, hip or spine problems? If so, does your condition currently require treatment?
If you have had problems with your neck, you may be at increased risk of injury during surgery and may not be eligible to donate. Bone marrow collection can aggravate existing back and/or hip problems. If you have a history of neck, back, hip or spine problems that have been resolved and are not under treatment, you may still be eligible to donate.
Have you ever had hepatitis, yellow jaundice, liver disease or a positive blood test for hepatitis?
You are eligible to donate if you have a history of Hepatitis A. Any positive blood test for Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C makes you ineligible. Hepatitis B vaccination is acceptable.
Have you ever tested positive for HIV antibodies (the AIDS virus)?
You are not eligible to be a donor if you are HIV positive because HIV can be transmitted from a donor to the transplant recipient.
Have you ever been treated for abnormal bleeding?
If you have a clinically significant bleeding disorder or history of bleeding after surgery or dental procedures, you are not eligible to donate. A clinically significant bleeding disorder is one that has required physician intervention in the past.
During the past 12 months, have you received any blood transfusions or tattoos or ear, skin or body piercings?
If you answer yes, you are still eligible to join the registry. However, you will be temporarily deferred from donating for 12 months from the date of transfusion or tattoo.
In the past month, have you taken any drugs prescribed by a physician?
Any prescription drugs must be evaluated by the local Be The Match representative when you join to find out why you are taking the medication. Acceptable medications include: birth control pills, thyroid medication (not for cancer), antihistamines, antibiotics, prescription eyedrops and topical medications. Anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications, such as diazepam and lithium, and hypertension medications, if there is no underlying cardiac disease, are acceptable if the condition is well controlled.
Have you ever taken human growth hormone or etretinate (Tegison™), a drug taken for the treatment of psoriasis?
Human growth hormone is given to treat growth hormone deficiency. If you have taken human growth hormone, you are not eligible to be a donor due to the possible retransmission of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. If you have taken only recombinant DNA-derived growth hormone products, you are still eligible.
Studies show that etretinate, suspected of causing severe birth defects in infants of women who have taken it, may be detectable in blood for long periods of time after the drug has been discontinued. For this reason, you are not eligible if you have taken etretinate.
Have you ever taken drugs by needle that were not prescribed by a physician?
The use of injectable drugs is an important consideration because of the high incidence of hepatitis among people who use injectable drugs and because needle-sharing drug users are at high risk for developing HIV infection.
Have you ever had problems with general or regional anesthesia?
Common side effects of anesthesia are nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, muscle pain, drowsiness and sore throat. It is safe to receive general or regional anesthesia if you have had these side effects. Any more severe side effects, such as numbness, tingling and muscle weakness could increase the risk of future complications. You may not be eligible to donate if you have had severe side effects from anesthesia.
Have you ever been HLA tissue typed before? If so, when and where?
A volunteer only needs to be tissue typed once. If you can get a copy of your tissue typing, the expense of being retested can be saved. Most often, to get a copy of your tissue typing, you need to send a written request for release to the institution that performed the typing.