How Joining the Stem Cell Registry Can Save a Life

Have you ever thought of making a lifesaving decision? When we want to help, we donate our money and our old clothes, save water and maybe even adopt a street dog. Whereas all these acts might help you to bring happiness and certainty into another human being’s or an animal’s life, we are sometimes unaware of all the different ways of helping. One more act you can do is giving a significant gift to improve someone’s health. A good way of doing this is to donate blood, which is very important, as 800 blood donors are needed every working day in Finland. These volunteer donors help approximately 50,000 people every year.

But in addition to donating blood, have you ever considered joining the Stem Cell Registry?

The stem cell treatments are used when an aggressive and malignant haemopathy, for example leukemia, can’t be cured with the other kinds of treatments, and the patient’s life expectancy is short. Stem cell transplants can also help cure myelmas and lymphomas. Donating stem cells is an efficient way of helping, since more than a half of the patients will recover. It is a high number when you consider that this transplant might be the patient’s last hope.

The donors are chosen by the compability of their tissue, which means that your tissue type needs to be suitable for the one of the patient’s. To find out your tissue type and to enter it to the database, you need to provide the register with a small sample taken with a cotton swab from your mouth and send the sample back to the Finnish Red Cross' blood service. The envelope, stamp and the sterilized cotton swab are free and provided by the register and taking the sample is very easy and quick! 

Stem cells can be collected in two different ways: From the blood stream or from the bone marrow. The choice of the method depends on the needs of the patient, but sometimes the donor’s wishes can also be taken into consideration. Donating stem cells is also safe, because the donor’s health and the collecting process is carefully monitored by a doctor. All donations take place in Helsinki and all the expenses, for example the travel fees, housing and loss of earnings will be reimbursed.

The Finnish Stem Cell Registry serves over 100 stem cell transplants to Finland and abroad every year and around 30 Finns donate their blood stem cells each year. Although most of the members of the register will never be invited to donate, the register needs 4000 new members each year to be able to work properly. By joining the register, you can give someone one more chance to be cured.

Now it is your time to take a short test to see if you are eligible to donate! However, there should not be any problems if you are aged between 18-40 years and are in basic good health.