Once the decision has been made that a patient should move forward with the plan to undergo a BMT, s/he will be referred to a transplant center (TC). For many, if not most patients whose parents are reading this website, this will be the BMT program run by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance or SCCA. SCCA, which is a consortium of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Washington Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, operates the sole pediatric BMT center in Washington state. In most cases, the BMT itself will take place at Children’s. Once the patient has been accepted for the BMT workup, the formal search process can begin.
Only a transplant center may make request that a formal search be started for a specific patient. Usually the request is made by a search coordinator who is assigned to each patient in need of an unrelated BMT donor. S/he is also responsible for monitoring the results found from the search of databases of national and international donor registries, and for conferring about them on a regular basis, with the patient’s transplant physicians. AT SCCA, an HLA Attending Physician works closely with the search coordinator to select the donor candidate(s).
The process of searching for an unrelated donor (URD) for a specific patient begins with research into the holdings of databases of donor HLA typings that have been collected by registries in the US and around the world.