Cooperating for the patients

The success of blood stem cell donation is based on millions of people who have registered worldwide and on international cooperation. As an accredited member of the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), the Swiss registry meets the highest international standards.

At the end of 2017, around 33.5 million people around the world were registered as blood stem cell donors, around 2.6 million more than there were a year earlier (2016: 30.9). Due to the complexity of data collection and evaluation, the 2017 figures are the most recent global numbers available.

Collections continued at a steady rate

The number of stem cell donations around the world was similar to those of previous years. Blood stem cells were collected for transplantation to an unrelated recipient 17 162 times in 2017, which is nearly equal to the figure for the previous year (2016: 17 297). As was the case in Switzerland, a good three quarters (13 093) of these procedures were peripheral blood stem cell donations; 4069 procedures to collect material from bone marrow were performed in 2017 (2016: 4067).

Solidarity without borders

It is thanks to international cooperation that patients have a chance of finding a suitable donor. This is clear in Switzerland’s case and elsewhere. Of the 145 transplants performed in Switzerland in 2018, only 8 involved blood stem cells that were donated here. The donations originated in a total of 17 different countries, with Germany supplying the largest number (74), followed by the USA (21) and Poland (15). Those are the countries that have the greatest number of donors in their registries.

The majority of the blood stem cells donations collected in the 61 procedures performed in Switzerland as well as 3 units of cord blood from Switzerland went to Italy (10) and Germany (9), though multiple donations also went to the USA (5), France (4) and Argentina (4); 8 of the donations remained in Switzerland.

Origin of products for Swiss patients 2018

Destination of Swiss products 2018

Highest standards of quality

Swiss Transfusion SRC has been an accredited member of the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) since March of 2018 and complies with all of its strict requirements. At this time, 21 of the 94 registries worldwide have received accreditation and thus have demonstrated the highest standards in quality. This requires strict adherence to stringent, meticulously described procedures throughout the entire process from donor registration through to transplantation, with adherence subject to regular verification.

GRID quality factor

To ensure the safety of donors and patients, the WMDA decided to introduce a globally standardised and unique donor ID, known as the GRID (Global Registration Identifier for Donors). As of 1 January 2019, all registered donors, over 33 million people, must have a GRID in addition to their previous donor ID number. Swiss Transfusion SRC successfully performed the work this entailed in 2018. In a second step, the GRID will have replaced the previously assigned donor ID in all systems and act as the sole identifier as of mid-December 2019, on schedule.

Establishment of new registries

Blood stem cell donation is state-of-the-art medicine, and as a result the registries tend to be concentrated in the north-western regions of the world. One of the WMDA’s strategic objectives is to extend these regions and establish new registries, in India, for instance. And, in 2018, for the first time ever, a patient in Switzerland received a transplant of blood stem cells that had been donated in India.