Our Donors Save Lives

How to join

STRENGTH TO GIVE UPDATE 10/05/21

ABMDR has now exhausted funding received from Australian Governments for Strength to Give swab based enrolment. As a result, Strength to Give is paused until a decision on longer-term arrangements is made.

Are you aged between 18-35 and in good health? If so, you’re likely to be able to participate in our swab recruitment campaign, Strength to Give.

ABMDR accepts people who do not have a history of serious cancers or major autoimmune diseases, and who have not had a transplant, heart attack or stroke, or been diagnosed with HIV or HTLV. ABMDR also accepts many people who are unable to be a blood donor – e.g. those who have recently travelled overseas or gotten a tattoo, or engaged in intravenous drug use or male-to-male sex. Click here to check your eligibility and find out more about how you can register via a simple cheek swab test.

Lifeblood

Australian governments fund the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood to recruit blood donors onto ABMDR’s blood stem cell register.

If you’re a blood donor between 18 and 35 years old call Lifeblood on 13 14 95 to make an appointment to donate blood and join the registry. When you go to donate blood ask the nurse at reception for the ABMDR enrolment form and complete this document before donating blood. You will then be asked to make a blood donation of 470 mL and an additional 20-30 mL of this will be collected for ABMDR to determine your tissue type. Click here to check  the address of  the Lifeblood donor centre near your area.

Why is a blood sample or cheek swab required?

This is used to determine your tissue type, which tells us which patient your blood stem cells will be immunologically compatible with. We also use it to identify your blood type and whether you have been exposed to cytomegalovirus (a virus that can cause critical complications in stem cell transplants). When a patient anywhere in the world needs a donor, their medical team can search these (de-identified) enrolment results for all of the donors on our registry, and all overseas registries that we are linked with, to see who is their best match.

If you match with a patient you will be contacted by ABMDR about the next steps. In Australia, only around 1 in 1,500 donors will be asked to donate stem cells in any year.

Sometimes, particularly if you joined a while ago, we might need to update your original enrolment test results to make it easier to see if you match any patients. This kind of updated testing can usually done with a simple cheek swab.

Can I join just to donate to a specific person?

Plainly put: no. When you register to become a donor, you do it to save anyone’s life. We understand you might be driven to join because someone you know is sick. Unless you have the same parents, the chances of you being a match for them are absolutely remote. When you register, you must be willing to help save the life of someone you’ve never met, even someone from another country. You might not save YOUR friend or relative, but you might save someone else’s.

How can I conduct a recruitment drive?

ABMDR welcomes all those wanting to volunteer to encourage people to join the Registry, and people with a friend or relative requiring a transplant often find it a useful and positive way to contribute. However, we need to make sure that everyone involved in running a recruitment drive on behalf of a patient understands that they will almost certainly not find a matching donor for their loved one. Be assured that ABMDR is already searching the world to find their match, from the 38 million+ donors already signed up.

Volunteers must ensure that everyone who signs up is prepared to donate their blood stem cells to anyone, anywhere in the world; and no pressure or coercion can be placed on people considering joining. You should plan to recruit young (18-35) men in particular, as they are the most sought after donors and least likely to join of their own initiative. If you’d like to hold a recruitment drive to encourage people to join the registry, please contact Lifeblood in your state. Please be aware that all donors joining through Lifeblood must be eligible to donate blood.