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Bone marrow donor diversity is needed


Bone marrow transplants are procedures that infuse healthy blood stem cells into your body to replace damaged or diseased bone marrow.

Just like people in need of solid organ transplants, such as hearts or kidneys, people needing a bone marrow transplant have to find a matching donor.

Dr. Ernesto Ayala, a Mayo Clinic hematologist, and oncologist says bone marrow donations from people of all races and ethnicities are essential in order to help more patients find potentially lifesaving matches. Diversity is critical to the world of medicine. Take bone marrow transplants, for example.

“The most important factor when we look for a donor is HLA matching. HLA stands for human leukocyte antigens, which essentially are just markers in the surface of the cells,” says Ayala. Siblings and parents are sometimes matches. Otherwise, a match may be found in the national bone marrow donation registry. The problem is most people registered as donors are white. “If I have a patient that belongs to an ethnic minority, then I will only find a donor in the registry in about 20% to 25% of the time,” says Ayala. Ayala encourages people of all races to consider being a lifesaving bone marrow transplant donor. 

Mayo Clinic News Network


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