So far this year, a total of 6,798 people have registered on the Spanish Bone Marrow Donor Register (Spanish acronym: REDMO). This is more than double the number of donors who registered in the same period of the previous year (3,015 to July 2011).
This figure shows that the solidarity among Spanish people in this regard, one of the key factors of the Spanish organ donation and transplantation model, continues to grow.
Together with umbilical cord blood, bone marrow is a rich tissue source of hematopoietic stem cells. Bone marrow donors are a life-saver for many people who suffer from leukaemia and other malignant haemopathies as only 1 out of every 4 leukaemia sufferers on the waiting list for a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (bone marrow or umbilical cord blood) have a compatible family member from which to receive a donation.
All other cases, i.e. 3 out of every 4 patients, are covered by the Spanish transplant network through REDMO. The register helps find a compatible non-family member for a donation, whether that be bone marrow or via the units of umbilical cord blood stored at public blood banks.
Searching for donors around the world
When a donor cannot be found in Spain, REDMO extends its search beyond Spanish borders through the Global Register that has over 19,700,000 bone marrow donors and more than 500,000 units of umbilical cord blood. This means that any Spanish patients who need a hematopoietic stem cells transplant have the same chance as any other disease sufferer in the world to find a donor because the search is always submitted to all international registers.
Furthermore, REDMO manages requests from similar registers abroad when the perfect donor for a patient in another country is Spanish or the umbilical cord blood is stored at one of the 7 public blood banks that exist in Spain.
Spain currently leads the European ranking in terms of the number of stored units of umbilical cord blood (over 55,000 units) and is eighth in terms of the number of volunteer bone marrow donors (100,000). These numbers continue to rise.
According to data from REDMO, these figures (bone marrow donors and umbilical cord blood units) enable more than 80% of adults and more than 95% of children to find a non-family member donor in Spain.
A record number of 2,672 hematopoietic stem cells transplantations took place in Spain last year. Of those, 476 came from a non-family member donors (324 were bone marrow and peripheral blood donors, and 152 were umbilical cord blood units). The rest were transplants in which the hematopoietic stem cells came from the same patient (autografts) or from a family member (matched allogeneic).
Between 2005 and 2011, there was a 39.9% increase in this type of operation. The largest increase was seen among donations from non-family members (unmatched allogeneic), which have grown three-fold in number over the last 7 years.
Partnership agreements with the autonomous regions
In agreement with the ONT, the Josep Carreras Foundation has signed partnership agreements with both the Transplant Organisation of Catalonia (Spanish acronym: OCATT) and all the other autonomous regions of Spain to guarantee coordination in tasks related to promoting donation and the correct implementation of the processes for finding an unmatched donor and obtaining the donation.
In fact, the REDMO works with the 29 Spanish public hospitals* (see Annex 1) that undertake unmatched bone marrow donations.
The comprehensive development of REDMO and its integration with the public healthcare network of the Spanish National Health System took place in 1994 when the first Framework Agreement between the entity and the Spanish Ministry of Health was signed.
The Framework Agreement, which updates the partnership targets and procedures, has since been renewed so as to fall into line with scientific advancements and legislative changes regarding tissue transplantation.
In partnership with the OCATT in Catalonia and the other regional transplant organisations around Spain, the ONT is working with the Josep Carreras International Foundation, the scientific societies involved and the patients' associations to finalise a National Bone Marrow Donation Strategy. The goal of this strategy is to double the current number of donors registered with REDMO to 200,000 over the next four years. Until now, Spain has been committed to a hematopoietic stem cells donation model that is mainly based on umbilical cord blood (UCB). The launch of the National Bone Marrow Donation Plan will enable an increase in the proportion of Spanish donors to Spanish patients.