How Donors Are Recruited

Recruitment of BMT donors in the US is done in several different ways. The NMDP works with affiliated donor centers, which may be blood centers, hospitals, or in some cases its own branch offices, across the country. The NMDP also  works with its network of ethnic-specific recuritment groups nationally, along with its corporate recrutiment groups . Both donor centers and recruitment groups facilitate donor registration by individuals, as well as  by conducting their own public recruitment campaigns or donor drives. The other US donor registries also recruit donors, through campaigns and on a personal basis.  Individuals, families, and organizations may work with these entities to hold donor recuritment events of their own.

Some organizations, medical centers, or employers donate  and/or raise funds to cover the costs of testing donors who register at drives, so that indviduals are not charged although contributions may be requested. In Massachusetts , New Hampshire and Rhode island, state laws to promote donor recruitment require that certain types of private health insurance plans cover the costs of donor testing. Residents of those states can check with their employer or health plan to determine coverage.

NMDP donor centers usually have funding available each year to cover the costs of donor testing, but funds may be insufficient to meet the demand.  Also, in order to fulfill the federal mandate to increase the genetic diversity of the donor pool , the NMDP receives specially-designated public  funds to cover testing of donors from under-represented  groups ( those defined as minorities by Census  Bureau categories).  Prospective donors from these groups, including mixed heritage people,  will not be individually charged for in-person registration via the NMDP network.. Federal funds earmarked for donor testing are allocated by the NMDP to reimburse donor centers and recruitment groups according to a percentage formula set per demographic-specific group in each state or region. There are yearly numerical goals set for donor recrutiment  from population groups in the geographic locale of each recruitment organization.

The Internet has also become an important donor recrutiment tool. Many families  or organizations create personal websites seeking donors for specific patients, Due to the difficulties for patients from under-represented heritage groups to find unrelated donors, web-based campaigns are frequenlty used on their behalf.

Some registries now also allow interested individuals to pre-register by completing online personal health information questionnaires. Then  if  medical screening evaluates the person to be a suitable potential donor , s/he will receive by mail  a postpaid buccal swab kit with directions for use, to be returned ot the donor center or registry. There is usually a fee charged for Internet-based indiviudal registration, unless subsidized by a particular campaign. The NMDP fee for online registration is currenlty $52 and is not waived for individual minority donors.

At the present time, recruitment for cord blood donation is limited, and primarily done by cord blood banks in  in conjunction with the maternity services  and childbirth education classes at each bank’s affiliated hospitals.

Each registry has its own procedures for donor recruitment and for working with community members who  wish to get involved with recruitment efforts. Please contact  each institution or organization to learn more about their programs and activities.

Geographic List of Donor Centers in the NMDP Network

List of Recruitment Groups Affiliated with the NMDP

Other US Donor Registries

American Bone Marrow Donor Registry

Caitlin Raymond International Registry

CW Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program


Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation

HLA Registry