Why bone marrow donation is used 

Bone marrow transplants are required when a person’s bone marrow becomes damaged or diseased to such an extent that it stops functioning properly.

This may be due to certain cancers, such as:

  • leukaemia cancer of the white blood cells
  • non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system), or a related cancer of the blood

Leukaemia has a few main sub-types:

Other diseases that may require a bone marrow transplant include:

  • certain genetic blood and immune system disorders such as sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia and some severe immune system diseases
  • bone marrow failure (severe aplastic anaemia)
  • other diseases that affect the blood, such as multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects blood plasma cells

Bone marrow transplants are also sometimes necessary following certain treatments, such as high-dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which are often used to treat cancer. These treatments tend to damage healthy stem cells as well as destroying cancer cells.

Read more detailed information about bone marrow transplants.

Video: bone marrow transplant

Sarah had leukaemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. She talks about her feelings when she was told Michelle was a match.

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Blood and organ donation

Have you considered donating your organs or giving blood? Find out how you could help others and how to register

Page last reviewed: 14/05/2014

Next review due: 14/05/2017