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Bone Marrow Transplant. 1997 Dec;20(12):1011-7.

Problems and possible solutions in finding an unrelated bone marrow donor. Results of consecutive searches for 240 Dutch patients.

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Department of Immunohaematology and Blood Bank, Europdonor Foundation, Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands.


To evaluate the efficiency of our protocol for finding an HLA matched unrelated bone marrow donor, search results obtained between 1990 and 1995 for 240 Dutch patients were analyzed. The percentage of patients for whom, according to information given by the registries, a fully split-HLA antigen matched donor is available, increased from 24% in 1990 to over 70% in 1995. As a result the percentage of patients transplanted rose from about 24% in 1990-1991 to 44% in 1994-1995. The median time between the start of the search and transplantation was about 6 months. The systematic use of Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW) which comprises the HLA groups of all volunteer bone marrow donors in Europe, Israel, South Africa, North America, Canada, India, Australia and New Zealand has been essential in this context. While searching for a suitable donor several problems were encountered such as unavailability of donors (12%) and discordant typing results (8%; range < 1% to > 25%). Thus it is advisable to select several donors for a patient. For 86% of patients with at least one HLA identical donor on the serological level for HLA-A,-B,-DR,-DQ, an HLA-DRB1/3/4/5, and -DQB1 identical donor could be identified. As expected, patients with two frequent haplotypes in strong linkage disequilibrium had the best chance of obtaining an HLA matched donor. Unexpectedly, patients with only one such haplotype had an almost similar chance. It could be calculated that HLA-DR typing of HLA-A,-B identical donors was rarely cost-effective after 1992. Only 12 of the 75 transplanted patients (16%) typeable at DNA level for class II, turned out to be completely matched for HLA-A,-B,-C,-DRB1/3/4/5,-DQB1,-DPB1 and had a negative MLC test. In the group of patients transplanted with a fully matched donor and for whom a CTLp test was performed, only 7% (4/54) of the tests were negative. Search results for patients of non-European origin were dismal, with only four of 26 patients referred being transplanted. In summary, of the 240 patients for whom the Europdonor office searched for a donor, about one-third were transplanted, one-third had a potential donor but did not reach transplantation, while for the remaining one-third of patients no suitable donor could be found.

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