Many patients do not reach haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Shortage of unrelated donors (UDs) is still seen as the main cause. However, with a worldwide UD pool containing more than 8 million donors, it is possible that other impediments are becoming more important. We analysed 549 UD searches for Dutch patients, performed between 1987 and 2000, in order to find the reasons for failure or success to reach transplantation. Between 1996 and 2000, 59% of the patients of Northwest European origin received a graft from an UD with a median time span of 4.4 months from the start of the search. In all, 11% of the patients lacked a compatible donor, while 30% became medically unfit for transplantation. This is in contrast to the patients of non-Northwest European origin for whom UD shortage is still the most important impediment; only 32% were transplanted while 50% lacked a compatible donor. We conclude that the shortage of donors is no longer the biggest constraint in unrelated stem cell transplantation for patients of Northwest European origin. It may be more effective to optimize the chance on transplantation by making the search process more efficient.

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Bone Marrow Transplantation
Department of Pediatrics

Heemskerk, M., van Walraven, S., Cornelissen, J., Barge, R., Bredius, R., Egeler, M., … Oudshoorn, M. (2005). How to improve the search for an unrelated haematopoietic stem cell donor. Faster is better than more!. Bone Marrow Transplantation, 35(7), 645–652. doi:10.1038/sj.bmt.1704865