The search process begins with a preliminary scan of donor data contained in the registries of the NMDP, and often of the data for all international registries as well. This is called a preliminary search, and it can be requested by any physician, not just by a transplant center. As previously mentioned, oncologists and other doctors who treat patients with BMT-treatable diseases often wish to determine if BMT might be part of the treatment plan for an individual patient.
Some registries also have a mechanism for patients to initiate their own preliminary search, utilizing their personal HLA typing results. The Caitlin Raymond International Registry and the New York Blood Center ‘s National Cord Blood Program offer this service via their websites. The NMDP also began offering this web-based service, called MatchView , for its own registry in June 2007, in accordance with the public access guidelines for the new federal BMT donor program.
It is important to understand exactly what a preliminary search is, and is not. The programs will search for potential matches of HLA-A, HLA-B, and HLA-DRB1 loci, based on antigen-level typing of a patient with similar data contained in each database surveyed. The results give a type of snapshot view of potential donors, but do not necessarily mean that all those found will match well enough for a BMT, when higher levels of testing are done (see the following sections on the HLA system, matching, and testing). It can be helpful for both patients and treating physicals to know early on if there are any potential matches to be explored, something especially that may be important for patients from demographics groups under-represented in the registries.
Tip for Donor Searching: Be sure to ask that your child’s search coordinator check frequently on new additions to the NMDP database, and keep you updated on the progress of the search. New donor data is added to the NMDP registry on a weekly basis, and monthly to the international Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide database.