Bone marrow is a soft tissue present in bones. It generates haematopoietic stem cells (HSC), which themselves generate blood cells.
A bone marrow transplant can increase the chances of patients being cured from serious blood diseases such as leukaemia.
It is very difficult to find a compatible donor outside the immediate family circle (i.e. brothers and sisters). This is why it is important to increase the number of donors listed in the French Bone Marrow Transplant register, which is administered by the Agence de la biomédecine, and to further develop partnerships with foreign registries. Haematopoietic stem cells can be either harvested from blood or (under general anaesthetic) from bone marrow removed from the pelvic bone.
Certain patients can be transplanted with cord blood, which is rich in HSC. Cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord immediately after the baby’s birth. This procedure is painless and is without danger to either mother or baby.
Donations of bone marrow and cord blood are anonymous, unpaid and voluntary.