Czechia’s marrow donor registry has helped more than 2,000 patients

Czechia’s national bone marrow donors register marks its 30th anniversary this year. Over the past three decades, the organization has helped find a suitable donor for more than two thousand people with leukemia or other serious blood conditions.

Pavel Jindra | Photo: FN Plzeň

Today, the Czech National Marrow Donors Registry includes nearly 112,000 people. However, due to the strict criteria for matching donor and patient, only one percent of them actually end up donating bone marrow. That’s why the registry continues to recruit new donors, explains the registry’s director Pavel Jindra:

“It would be good if at least half or a third of our patients found a donor in Czechia. It would be cheaper and easier to organise than transporting bone marrow from abroad. That’s why we need to have at least 200,000 to 250,000 donors. Which means recruiting another 100,000 people.”

Pavel Jindra, who also heads the haematology and oncology department at the University Hospital in Pilsen, says that while the Czech register is still relatively small compared to the neighbouring Germany, Czechs are willing donors:

“We cannot match Germany, which has around eight or nine percent of the population on its marrow register. In our case, it is only about one and a half percent. But we are better off than many countries and certainly the best of all the post-communist states.”

Photo: Ľubomír Smatana,  Czech Radio

One of people in the Czech marrow registry is 26-year-old Zuzana Drázdová. Three years after she signed up in the database, doctors told her she was an ideal match for one of their patients. She subsequently underwent a pelvic bone graft harvest.

“I was very surprised because I didn’t really expect that. The likelihood that you will actually be approached is awfully small. So I was taken aback, but I was really glad because it seemed like something meaningful that I could do to help someone.”

Ingrid Beránková Ambruzová is one of the people whose life was saved thanks to the national bone marrow registry. At the age of 29, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and a bone marrow transplant was the only way to save her life.

Photo: Martina Klímová,  Czech Radio

Luckily for her, she only waited four months for a suitable donor. The surgery was successful and several years later, Mrs Ambruzová got to meet the woman who saved her life:

“It was absolutely crazy. I was so excited. And then, as the date of the meeting got closer, I got really scared. But when she approached me, it was wonderful because I felt like we belonged together and that we had known each other forever.”

Since the first unrelated bone marrow transplant in 1993, nearly 900 Czech donors have been matched with patients - about two-thirds of the grafts helped patients in Czechia and the rest have gone abroad, most recently to Australia.

Authors: Lucie Korcová , Ruth Fraňková
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