Donor Requirements and Testing

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Donor Requirements and Testing

Donor requirements
The basic requirements to be a HSC donor are similar to those of blood donors. They include the following:
  • Age: 18-60 years
  • HIV: Persons infected with HIV are excluded
  • Allergies: Life threatening allergies, such as a latex allergy, may exclude donors
  • Arthritis: Rheumatoid and advanced arthritis excludes donors
  • Asthma: Asthma requiring steroid use will exclude donors
  • Autoimmune disease: Autoimmune disorders including SLE, Severe psoriasis, and Fibromyalgia exclude donors
  • Bleeding disorders: Factor V Leiden and Von Willebrand disease excludes donors
  • Brain injury/brain surgery: Donors with a history of brain injury and multiple concussions are excluded
  • Cancer: Donors with a history of any blood cancer are excluded
  • Heart disease/stroke: Donors who have recovered from a stroke or heart attack are excluded
  • Hepatitis: Donors who have been infected or are carriers of Hepatitis B or C are excluded
  • Kidney disease: Donors with glomerulonephritis and other serious kidney disorders are excluded
  • Liver disease: Donors with severe liver disease such as Wilson’s disease are excluded
  • Chronic Lyme disease: Donors with chronic Lyme disease are excluded
  • Weight: Donors with a BMI greater than 40 are usually excluded
Donor testing
In addition to the questions about the donor’s medical history and ethnicity, donors are also tested for HLA tissue type by collecting cheek cells with a cotton swab. The HLA antigens that are tested using molecular diagnostics are HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, DRBI, and DQ. Since a donor has two sets of each antigen, both sets must be identical to the patient for a perfect match. For example, if a donor is HLA A 33, 34, HLA B 58, 44 and HLA C 07, 05, the patient must match all 6 alleles for a match. Due to their lower level of immunogenicity, cord blood cells often do not require a perfect match (for example, 9 of 10 may be an acceptable match).
If a donor’s preliminary testing matches a prospective recipient, the donor is retested to verify the HLA typing and detect potential infectious diseases that may cause complications for the patient. Recent studies have shown that unrelated HLA-matched donors have the same long-term outcome as HLA-matched siblings.