BMT Donors and Recipients

At present, about 75% of the more than 6 million prospective donors listed in the donor registry of the federally-funded National Marrow Donor Program ® (NMDP) are  identified as Caucasian . The other 25% is comprised of members of all groups categorized as racial minorities (the NMDP utilizes  primarily the federal racial/ethnic designations now reported by the Census Bureau) of whom some 2% are described as being of unspecified mixed heritages.

Targeted recruitment efforts started in the past decade to diversify the unrelated donor pool have resulted in increases of the percentage of registered minority group donors being currently similar to the proportion of each group in the national population. However, the numbers of donors from under-represented genetic-origin groups still needs to increase significantly in order to give any individual patient an equivalent chance to find a suitably matching donor.

According to the World Marrow Donor Association, data compiled from statistics gathered by Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW) , showed similar patterns of disparities persisting  within and across international registries , most of which are located in the Europe.  On a global level ( including the US), most registered donors are said to be of northwestern European descent. Donor registries are now beginning to be developed in countries of Asia, Latin, America, and the Middle East; currently a sole registry in the continent of Africa is located in South Africa.

The increased use of cord blood for BMTs is expected to be able to improve chances for patients from minority population groups to undergo BMTs. There is also a great need to expand opportunities for diversifying the pool of cord blood donations. According to NMDP data for fiscal year 2006, 60% of cord blood units listed in the registry is from Caucasian infants.  Cord blood registries are also being developed on a global level.

BMT Statistics

These tables contain the most recent data available on race and ethnicity of unrelated BMT donors and recipients in the United States.

Table 1: U.S. unrelated BMT donor pool and unrelated BMT recipients (all ages)
NMDP-facilitated BMTs, 1987 – 2004

 Recipient Race/Ethnicity
 Number  Percent of
Percent of
Donor Registry
Percent of
U.S. Population
 African American 837  4.5%  7.8% 12%
 American Indian/Alaska Native  78  0.4% 1.2% 1%
 Asian/Pacific Islander  538  2.9%  6.8%  4.0%
 Caucasian  14,977  81.1%  50.4%  68%
 Hispanic  1,033  5.4%  8.7%  13%
 Other/Mixed Race  252  1.4%  2.6%  2%
 N/A (non-U.S.)  790  4.3%  22.5%  N/A
 Total  18,475 100%  100%  –

Source: NMDP 2004 Biennial Report; Census 2000

Note: Terminology for race/ethncity is presented as reported by the NMDP. Some countries of the world do not classify or identify their population by race or ethnicity.

Table 2: Race of U.S. child & teen unrelated donor BMT recipients (all cell sources) 1987-2006

 Recipient Race/Ethnicity   Age
0 – 5a
6 – 14a
15 – 18a
Percent of
Total by Racea
Percent of Age
0 – 18 in U.S.b
 African American 109  200 74 383 8.2% 16%
 American Indian/Alaska Native 5 9 6 20 0.4% <1%
 Asian/Pacific Islander 47 52 17 116 2.5% 4%
 Caucasian 1,418 1,477 782 3,677 78.8% 59%
 Hispanic 133 154 56 343 7.4% 19%
 Other/Mixed Race 35 61 27 123 2.6% 4%
 Decline/Unknown  0 3 1 4 0.1% N/A
 Total 1,747 1,956 963 4,666 100%

Note: In the course of research for the BMT Basics website, we learned that to date, statistics on race of chlldren who have received BMTs involving unrelated donors has not been published, although the  data is collected. Permission to share  the data presented here came from its source, the CIBMTR, with the  following disclaimer notice:

aAccording to CIBMTR: “The data presented here are preliminary and were obtained from the Statistical Center of the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research. The analysis has not been reviewed or approved by the Advisory or Scientific Committee of the CIBMTR.’ The data may not be published without the approval of the Advisory Committees.”

b Child Trends Data Bank, 2004