Journey Of Your Cheek Swab

Register as a bone marrow donor with just two simple steps - fill up a Donor Registration Form and do a cheek swab!

Have you ever wondered where does your cheek swab kit go to after you signed up with us? We bring you on a journey to understand what goes behind the scene of donor application processing.



Step 1: BMDP Receives Cheek Swab

Once we receive your cheek swab together with your form, our team will capture your personal details onto our volunteer donor database.



Step 2: Swab Sent To Lab


The swabs are sent to the laboratory for DNA extraction. We send these out in batches of 400 for the laboratory to process.

Trivia: BMDP processed 17174 applications and cheek swabs for the Year 2016



Step 3: DNA Extracted From Swab


The laboratory will dissolve the saliva from the swab into a solution and the DNA is extracted out of this saliva solution.



Step 4: Analysis of Tissue Typing


The DNA extracted looks specifically at the Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) - a genetic "marker" that is found on most cells in our bodies and is used to match a bone marrow donor with a patient.



Step 5: Added to Donor Database


Once the HLA information is processed from the DNA, the laboratory will send your tissue typing results as a series of numbers to BMDP for uploading onto the database. This is linked to your personal data and we will send you an email to confirm you are now a bone marrow donor. You are officially welcomed on board as part of our donor database!

The journey from the day you signed up to being officially part of our volunteer donor database takes between 6 weeks to 2 months.



Step 6: The Match


The search process is activated immediately when the BMDP receives a request for the transplant centre containing the details of Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) markers of the patient. These HLA markers are found in almost every cell of the body and are used to identify a matching donor for each patient. 

Your tissue type has to match perfectly with that of the patient’s, with the odds at a staggering 1 in 20,000. It all depends on the rarity of the patient’s tissue type. However, once you’re identified as a compatible donor, you may be the only person who can provide the life-saving bone marrow to that patient. 

PUBLISHED ON 26 July 2016
Registering to become a bone marrow donor means committing to be there when you get the call to give life. Each registrant provides hope for those waiting. A person could, however, be a match within a few months of registering, a year later or even seven years later.
How to register?