For the latest and most reliable information, we encourage you to follow the links provided within most answers. Additionally, visiting the source sites directly and consulting with reputable medical professionals are always recommended for the most current and accurate insights.

Do I get paid to be a donor?

No. The only “payment” received is the feeling of offering another person a second chance at life.

Who can donate?

Possible donors are between the ages of 18 – 40 years old and in general good health. Some of the automatic disqualifiers would include insulin-dependent Diabetes, Hepatitis-C, most cancers and AIDS/HIV.

How are patients matched with donors?

Matching patients with bone marrow donors is a crucial step. The process involves finding a donor whose bone marrow or stem cells closely match those of the patient to reduce the risk of rejection and improve the chances of successful stem cell transplants.

The matching process primarily depends on the compatibility of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) between the patient and the potential donor. Particular antigens, named HLA-A, B, and C are proteins present on the surface of most cells in our bodies, and they play a critical role in our immune system. The immune system uses HLA to recognize whether a cell belongs to the body (self) or is foreign (non-self). This is important because, during a bone marrow transplant, the new bone marrow (or stem cells) from the donor need to be accepted by the patient's immune system and not attacked as foreign invaders.

It's essential to have a close HLA "match" to minimize the risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), where the donor's immune cells attack the recipient's tissues. Finding a well-matched donor also increases the likelihood of a successful engraftment, where the donor's stem cells start producing healthy blood cells in the patient.

When looking for a match, it’s important to remember that people of the same race and ethnic groups are more likely to match each other. The first-place physicians look for a match is within the patient’s immediate family. Regardless of race or ethnicity, each person has a unique tissue type inherited from his or her parents, which is why the chances of finding a match are best among family members. The chances of two siblings matching each other are one in four. If no related donor can be found, the search for an unrelated donor begins. To help match patients and unrelated donors, Be The Match maintains a computerized Registry that records the tissue type of individuals who have agreed to donate stem cells. The computer crosschecks its records to see if there is a match for the patient. The Registry currently contains more than 39 million potential donors worldwide.

How much does it cost to register?

There is no cost associated with registering as a bone marrow donor in the state of California. The Be The Match Registry, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), facilitates the registration process, and it is free to join.

If you're interested in becoming a bone marrow donor or want to get more information about the process, you can visit the official website of Be The Match:


On their website, you can find details about the registration process, eligibility criteria, and frequently asked questions about being a bone marrow donor. Please note that policies and information may change over time, so it's always a good idea to check the most recent information on the Be The Match website to get the latest updates regarding bone marrow donation in California or any other location.

Does donation hurt?

It depends on the donation. Bone marrow donation is typically done through two methods: peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation and bone marrow donation.

Donating peripheral stem cells is like donating blood and is generally considered safe and not very painful. About 80 percent of donors choose this method.Common symptoms after donating peripheral stem cells may include:

  • Slight Discomfort: You might feel some minor discomfort or bruising at the sites where the needles were inserted (usually in the arms).
  • Fatigue: You may feel tired or fatigued for a few days, but this should improve with rest and time.
  • Headaches or Muscle Aches (Rarely): In some cases, donors might experience mild headaches or muscle aches, but these are temporary and generally not severe.

On the other hand, donating bone marrow is less common, accounting for about 20 percent of donations. If you are asked to donate bone marrow, you will be under anesthesia during the procedure, and you won't feel any pain. Common symptoms after donating bone marrow may include:

  • Soreness at the Site: You may experience some soreness at the site where the bone marrow was extracted (usually from the back of the pelvic bone), but it should improve within a few days.
  • Fatigue: You might feel tired or fatigued for a short period, but rest and taking it easy can help you recover.

Overall, the discomfort associated with marrow donation is temporary, and many donors report that the opportunity to save someone's life far outweighs any temporary discomfort. It's important to note that every individual's experience may vary, and if you are considering donation, it is best to consult with the NMDP or Be The Match directly for the most up-to-date and detailed information on the donation process and potential side effects.

Where is the donation done?

The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), also known as Be The Match, facilitates bone marrow and stem cell donation and operates a vast network of more than 180 transplant centers across the United States. This extensive network ensures that patients in need of a transplant have access to potential donors and the necessary medical facilities to undergo the donation process.

To find detailed information about donation locations and the donation process, you can visit the official website of the National Marrow Donor Program (Be The Match) at:


On their website, you'll find comprehensive information about becoming a donor, the donation process, and how you can potentially save lives by registering as a bone marrow or stem cell donor.

What happens after one donates?

Both the donor and the recipient are kept confidential from each other for at least one year, following the transplantation, if both parties agree to it. However, they can exchange anonymous messages through the NMDP during this time. After the one-year mark, if both parties wish, they may have the opportunity to meet or communicate directly.

We appreciate your understanding and commitment to staying informed as we continue to support the critical cause of bone marrow donation and medical research. Together, we strive to make a positive impact on the lives of those in need.

**While we strive to offer up-to-date and accurate information, please be aware that the field of bone marrow donation and medical advancements is constantly evolving. As a result, some of the answers provided on this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) web page may be subject to change and might not always reflect the most current developments.