Who we are
We are Australia’s only source of volunteer stem cell donors for patients – Australians willing to donate to anyone in need of a transplant anywhere in the world, and overseas volunteers willing to donate to Australian patients. We have been operating for over thirty years as a registered charity, largely funded by Australian governments.
ABMDR also administers government funding for public cord blood banks in Australia. Australian governments also contract the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood to support blood donors join our registry.
What we do
We give patients a chance of life
Stem cell transplants from volunteer donors are usually the last option for the medical treatment of patients with life-threatening blood cancers, bone marrow failures and severe immune disorders. We educate Australians on the need for volunteers to donate their stem cells, and they register with us through our Strength to Give website.
We facilitate the search for donors on behalf of Australian patients in need of transplants
Donations are only made once a donor has been confirmed as the most suitable match for a patient. We search the globe to find the most suitable donor for every Australian patient, facilitate the donation process and the delivery of stem cell products to the patient. We coordinate and accredit a complex network of donor recruitment supporters, public hospitals, labs and couriers to ensure the best outcomes for Australian patients and donors.
We act and advise on what patients need
We sit at the hub of Australia’s donation-transplant system and have unique insight into its challenges and opportunities. We have advised governments for over three decades on patient priorities and issues, including Australia’s over-reliance on overseas donors, caused by funding restrictions. During the pandemic, we led the sector on its crisis response, which was exacerbated by this over-reliance.
In February 2023 Australia’s Health Minister acknowledged that government red tape has meant that Australia has too few stem cell donors, leaving Australian patients in desperate need. While we wait for this red tape to be removed, we self-fund increased donor recruitment through the use of convenient home delivered cheek swabs, as done overseas.
We coordinate financial assistance for Australian patients
When Australian patients find matching donors overseas, we facilitate Australian government funding to cover the cost of testing these donors and collecting their cells.
We support research
We provide the scientific community access to data and donors (with consent) for ethically approved research.
Professor Jeremy Chapman AC – Chair
He chaired the creation of the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry in 1991 and continues in that role today. Jeremy also serves as the Deputy Chair Western Sydney Local Health District Board, and has recently retired from his roles as Clinical Director of Medicine and Cancer, Westmead Hospital and Director of Western Renal Services. Jeremy’s current interests involve research and teaching at the University of Sydney, and he is also a board member in a number of not for profit entities. He continues to work in consult roles and as Editor in Chief of the journals Transplantation and Transplantation Direct. Jeremy has been involved with the tissue typing laboratories and the Australian Organ Donation program for more than thirty years.
Lisa Smith – CEO
Lisa has spent a decade as a senior executive in Australia’s National E-Health Transition Authority, and brings a wealth of experience in working with government and stakeholders to fund and deliver collaborative outcomes. In her various roles across both government and the private sector, she has directed national implementation programs, and has led strategy and business development functions, as well as stakeholder engagement and communications.
Professor Jeff Szer AM – Chair, Scientific and Expert Advisory Committee
Jeff was the foundation President of the Bone Marrow Transplant Society of Australia and New Zealand, and remains a member of the steering committee of the Australasian Bone Marrow Transplant Recipient Registry. He is a past President of the Worldwide Network for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and the immediate past President of the World Marrow Donor Association. Jeff is also Editor in Chief of the Internal Medicine Journal and a member of editorial boards of Bone Marrow Transplantation, Blood Reviews and BioMed Central. He has published more than 340 papers in the field of marrow transplantation and blood disorders.