The science of matching improves

Posted March 12th, 2012 by admin and filed in News

When a transplant doctor is searching to find the best possible donor for a patient, they need the best information. Earlier this year, we launched a new version of our algorithm that sorts donors and cord blood units in a way that helps doctors quickly figure out which are likely to match the patient. Those with the highest likelihood to match are listed first. What this means is that few donors may need to be contacted for testing and that donors or cord blood units can be located far more quickly—critical when there is a patient waiting for a transplant.

The enhanced algorithm, called HaplogicSM III, will advance our mission to help more patients in need of a transplant. Transplant doctors and their patients are benefiting in very significant ways, including:

  • Improved matching predictions using 10 markers: Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing is used to match patients and donors for marrow transplants. The enhanced algorithm now predicts a match on 10 HLA markers, compared with six with the previous version.
  • Enhanced matching precision with detailed race groups: HLA markers used in matching are inherited from your parents, so some combinations of HLA markers are more common in particular racial and ethnic groups than others. That is why people are more likely to match someone with similar ancestry. Haplogic III now uses greatly expanded data about the frequency of HLA in 18 specific U.S. race and ethnicity groups to predict the best matches.
  • More clinically relevant sort order: Potential donors are now sorted by HLA type, with the 10/10 donors at the top of the donor list and all other close matches ranked by the number of HLA markers that match between the patient and the potential donor. This sorting helps transplant doctors to rapidly pinpoint any suitable donors or cord blood units even if they are not a perfect 10/10 match.

Haplogic III was developed by a project team of more than 125 people across the organization.

40 Responses to “The science of matching improves”

  1. Judy Promnitz says:

    I would really appreciate knowing where on this list I might fall ?! After reading the comments and learning SO much more than before, I’m even more eager esp with O+ blood type….any assistance would be greatly appreciated:)

    • Sandy says:

      Judy,

      There is no way to predict in a general way “where you might fall on the list”. It is not a general list of the entire bank of potential donors. The list they refer to would comprise of the potential donors found(based on how closely the markers align)to match a particular recipient.

      In the past there were 6 different HLA markers to assess and type, but now with this latest science there are 10. This now gives doctors even more information. I donated bone marrow in 1993. The match was a 6/6 match.

    • Danny says:

      It’s HLA antigens that are being matched. O+ blood type is very good for blood donations. I would recommend reading up about it as it’s a more common way to give.

  2. Survivor's mom says:

    I have to believe that after 18 years on the registry, I will likely never be called. But I keep hoping that I will be able to give the gift of hope to another, as someone did for my son so long ago. Even if I never am a match, I encourage others to join the registry in case they might.

    • Shari says:

      I have been on the registry since 1989 and was called just last week as a “preliminary” match for someone! Please pray that I am the one!!

    • Bliss Klatt says:

      I have been on the donor list since my husband had a transplant in 1993. Last March, after 18 years, I was a donor for a 9 year old boy. It was so nice to give the gift of hope to another family.

      • Sylvia says:

        Bliss, I am soooo glad for you that you were able to donate! I joined the registry 2 years ago for my sweet friend, Margaret, who passed away without a match found early enough to help. I was called as a potential last year, but wasn’t selected. Now, my daughter has refractory Lymphoma has a 10 for 10 match and will hopefully be ready for transplant in a couple of months. God bless!

    • Robbin says:

      I’ve been on the list for a long time; never called. At 58, I don’t expect to be called now and know that I will be taken off the list at 60 or something like that. But I would sign up all over again even if I never got a call, just to be there in case someone could use my help. It’s so simple…something everyone can do. Hope more people continue to sign up.

    • Linda says:

      I waited just over 16 years and was called to be a match in April. I donated last month! You never know when you’ll get the call… but even if you never do or you age out, YOU know you were willing to be there if needed. And that in and of itself is awesome.

  3. Meghan says:

    You would fall differently on everyone’s list according to how well you match them. If you fall first, you are the best match available for blood type, antigens etc.

  4. Mary Lockhart says:

    This is wonderful and welcomed news.While I have been on the list for a relatively short time, I remain hopeful that I will be the answer for someone’s future. Please continue to keep us all posted on this and other developments.

    • Hanifi says:

      Sweet post, Tom. I really wish I could be there to help but I’ll be out of town. Please let me know the next time there is a drive and count me in!

  5. Kathy Hickerson says:

    I have been on the donor registry about 25 years and have never had the opportunity to donate. I believe that at age 60 a donor is removed from the registry? If that is accurate, I only have a couple of years to be eligible. I pray that the opportunity comes for me. I cannot think of a more life changing experience then to be able to help someone in such a special way.

  6. Terry Barlow says:

    I was tissue typed in 1996 and back then only A,B,DR. Would it be helpful to be re-typed at this point for the other antigens?

  7. Kathy McCabe says:

    @ Kathy Hickerson…is it true that after age 60 you are inelegible?? I have been on the list for about 25 years also, but I guess I will be removed now that I hit the big 60…

    • Hi Kathy:
      You are correct that after age 60 you will no longer be considered for donation. These guidelines are in place to protect donors and provide the best treatment for patients:

      As one ages, the chances of a hidden medical problem that donation could bring out increases, placing older donors at increased risk of complications. Since there is no direct benefit to the donor when they donate, for safety reasons we have set age 60 as the upper limit. It is important to note that the age limit is not meant to discriminate in any way.

      Additionally, research shows that cells from younger donors lead to more successful transplants. That’s because younger donors produce more and higher-quality cells than older donors.

  8. Patty Van Pelt says:

    I would love to know where I stand in the matching process. I have O negative blood so I might make a good match!

    • Hi Patty:
      Matching for a marrow transplant is a bit more complex than blood type matching. Learn more on our website. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing is used to match patients and donors for bone marrow or cord blood transplants (also called BMT). HLA are proteins — or markers — found on most cells in your body. Go to http://www.bethematch.org to learn more.

    • Danny says:

      What Lynn said.

      O negative blood is I believe the 2nd least common blood type in the U.S. (somewhere less than 1% of the population). Please consider blood donation as well as it’s a lot easier on the donor, you can do it more often as long as you’re healthy which is every 2 months, and it’s free. You get some free snacks and drinks at the end too haha. O negative blood is important because O positive blood can’t be transfused to a patient with O negative. Only O negative and give to O negative patients whereas O positive blood can be given to patients with A+,B+,AB+,O+.

  9. Mary says:

    I also have been on the registry for many years and have only been able to come close only one time!
    I hope that I have an opportunity to donate during my last five years of useful donation longevity.

    This program is so very worthy of your donation :)
    Best Wishes From,
    Eagle River, Alaska

  10. Caren Jablonsky says:

    I have been on the registry for almost twenty years and I have never been called. I always thought that it was in part due to having AB Positive blood type, but as I’ve read there’s more to the matching process. How come, with the new technology available, it wouldn’t been a good idea to get the oral tissue typing done as well? I really hope to be a donor before I’m 60! (I’m only 48 now so I still have time, luckily!)

    • Sandy says:

      Caren,

      Yes things have changed over the years. Previously, in order to get the information the National Bone Marrow Donor Program Bank needed,including HLA typing, they would collect 6 vials of blood to test and evaluate. As technology and medical advances occur, they have come up with an even simpler process to gain the information; as you mentioned an oral tissue typing with a swab. It makes it faster and simpler for the potential donors who enter the data base, but doesn’t provide better or more accurate information. I hope this helps.

  11. Lisa King says:

    I too have been on the list for a while. I was called once as a potential donor. However, at that time I was in the hospital having surgery. I wonder if I have been removed from the list? I know that at the time, I was put on an unavailable list until I got out. But I’m not sure if I was taken off the list and am showing to be available again?

  12. I have been on the registry for a long time also and am 56. Even though you haven’t been called to donate bone marrow, you can still help people by donating blood and or platelets. I run a platelet drive once a month. Platelets only last 5 days and cannot be frozen. Burn victims, organ transplant patients and those going through chemo often need both whole blood and platelets. My husband had a heart transplant 3 years ago and we are very grateful.

  13. Lisa says:

    In 1997 I participated in a bone marrow drive in a local town. In 2006 I received “The Call.” It was a humbling and exciting opportunity to help give life to my recipient. I was 50 at the time and although he was 63 or 64 years old I think of him as my other son, since I am the mother to two sons in the more conventional manner. Guess what? Be the Match Registry contacted me again a week ago. I am a potential donor for a second time!

    • Danny says:

      That’s amazing. Thank you for showing your commitment and generosity. I hope to one day do the same when I get the call.

  14. Indeed, it’s a science – matching improves. It’s absolutly great that we’re able to help each others by becoming donors, the technology is great and God always helps us. I’m very pleased to see so many people becoming donors and helping other people, it’s amazing.

  15. Sharon says:

    After reading the posts, I will not loose hope that I can one day be able to donate. My thoughts were that I’ve been on the registry so long I will probably not be called, these posts have renewed my faith.

    • Gbarayor says:

      I understand the need for doorns and the circumstances under which this happens, someone must die on order for there to be a donor. I think being a donor is a wonderful responsibilty, a gift. Would you donate your child’s organs? My huband and I have an agreement, what ever he decides I don’t want to know about it. I would certainly want someone to donate their organs to my child, but I am not convinced I would do the same very hyprocritical, but even in death I would want to protect my child’s body. How horrible!

  16. Texas Hoosier says:

    I think it would be interesting someday if individuals on the Be the Match registry could be sent an annual listing of just how many of the 10 HLA markers used to determine suitability for a transplant of their bone marrow actually matched against a list of those in need. The database needed for such a listing would be pretty simple to implement, the key being the need for a simple and effective way to input the data automatically without the need for alot of human intervention (to eliminate the cost and human error). Only the bone marrow registrant would get his or her list and of course the list of people that were in need of a transplant would be anonymous. I think that would spark interest in the whole effort to help out others in need – give the potential list of donors some idea as to how often they were evaluated and how close or not-so-close was a match to being made. There may be some hidden drawbacks to this action but I suspect building the database of bone marrow registrants in the long run is far more important particularly if it would save just one more life….

  17. Christine Bicek says:

    My daughter is half Irish, 1/4 Vietnamese and 1/4 Italian. Her father is half Vietnamese. Are her chances of being a donor slightly better for any particular ethnic group?

  18. Fred says:

    I registered for Be The Match awhile ago, years it feels like, and have never once been contacted about giving blood for stem cell recipients. I’ve been giving blood with Carter Blood Care for 10 years now and give every two months or so. Still have yet to give for the bone marrow registry other than that first cheek swab.

  19. Kelly says:

    I registered back in the 1980′s and just worried I’d get a call as I was heading overseas…now 30 years later still no call. :-}. Wish it was because none needed care anymore!

    Really excited about the improvements in matching technology! Wonder if someone on the registry as long as I have been needs to get retested to update the info?

  20. Traci Walker says:

    Give the Registry a call at 1-800-MARROW-2 and they will advise you!

  21. Susayne says:

    I just found out that I am a perfect match 10 out of 10 HLA markers for my brother. I am so excited that I am able to help him. I have a question my sister was also tested and only matched 2 markers. So now she thinks she has a different father then my brother and myself. Is this possible, that this can happen? I am wandering if she didn’t understand when it was explained to her that she wasn’t a match, but matched 2 markers.
    Thank you

  22. Please let me help, I am 0+ have been on the bone marrow list 4 years I am healthy n would love to help.
    susan oldford
    4 madison street
    Port washington NY,11050

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