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About OneMatch

MEN WANTED Ethnic Males 17 to 35 are needed now.

The OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network was originally established as the Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry (UBMDR) in 1989. It is dedicated to recruiting and locating compatible, committed, healthy, unrelated donors for patients in Canada and around the world.

In 2006, we received accreditation through the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) - the seventh of 62 member registries to achieve this status. Achieving WMDA accreditation is an important indication that Canadian Blood Services is meeting its commitment to making stem cell donation a safe procedure for both donors and recipients.

The story of OneMatch involves equal measures of science, determination and compassion. Click on the timeline for more information


1958: Discovery of HLA System

Unrelated bone marrow transplants can trace their roots to the 1950s, when a French scientist named Jean Dausset discovered the first Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA). HLA antigens are proteins that help the immune system identify and defend against invaders such as bacteria and viruses. There are six HLA antigens considered important to successful bone marrow transplantation. Registries focus on these six antigens when they are matching donors with patients in need of bone marrow transplants. Every attempt is made to find a donor whose HLA antigens match those of the patient's as closely as possible. Otherwise, there is a danger that the patient's immune defences will attack the donor's bone marrow cells.

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1979: The First Successful Unrelated Transplant

The first bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor to result in more than five years of disease-free survival took place in 1979 in Seattle. By that time, medical advances were rapidly making related bone marrow transplants a viable treatment option. At the time, only 25% of patients were able to find a donor from their siblings or other relatives. If matching volunteer donors could be found, many more lives could be saved. Initially a number of medical centres began to establish lists of donors, but it soon became clear that a national infrastructure would be more practical. And so, the idea of a Canadian registry was born.

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1980s: The formative years

In 1981, the Canadian Red Cross Society established a national bone marrow donor registry working group. The group's mandate was to monitor registry growth and experiences in the United States and to evaluate the potential need and value and cost implications of establishing such a registry in Canada. By 1983, the Red Cross had begun a pilot study to recruit bone marrow donors in Ottawa and Newfoundland. Early recruitment focused on Red Cross platelet donors because these people were already HLA typed and had demonstrated a willingness and commitment to donating. Response was good - about half of the platelet donors in Ottawa told the Red Cross they would be willing to also become potential bone marrow donors.

The idea of a registry was gaining momentum and support from many sources, including doctors, transplant centres, health officials - and perhaps most importantly, the Canadian public. As people learned of the plight of neighbours requiring bone marrow transplants, they rallied together to raise funds and recruit donors for patients in need.

Groups such as the Bruce Denniston Bone Marrow Donor Society and the Save Elizabeth Campaign - which later became the Elizabeth Lue Bone Marrow Foundation, helped establish lists of volunteer donors which were later incorporated into the national registry. The stories they brought to the Canadian public touched the lives of many people and spread a message of hope to patients. The seeds of a national registry had been planted.

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1989: Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry Takes Off

In 1989, provincial and territorial governments endorsed a three-year agreement with $2.5 million in funding to formally establish the Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry. The role of the Registry would be to provide committed, volunteer donors for patients in need, nationally and internationally. By the fall of 1990, the Registry had established a search capability and 12 donor clinics across Canada to recruit donors. That year, 30 unrelated bone marrow transplants took place in Canada.

The decade that followed saw significant advances in the science of bone marrow transplantation. The number of transplants taking place annually grew to more than 100, and the number of donors on the Registry also grew in leaps and bounds.

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1998: Canadian Blood Services assumes responsibility

In 1998, responsibility for the Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry was transferred to Canadian Blood Services, the organization set up to manage the country's blood system. The science of bone marrow transplantation is poised once again to take important steps forward with new treatments, more advanced HLA typing techniques and new sources of stem cells for transplantation. Canadian Blood Services is committed to managing the Registry strategically and scientifically to take advantage of these advances and to effectively meet the needs of transplant patients.

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2006: Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry achieves international accreditation

In 2006, the Canadian Registry received accreditation through the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) - the seventh of 62 member registries to achieve this status.

The WMDA is the world body which establishes international standards for the safe collection and transportation of high-quality stem cells to needy patients globally.

To receive accreditation with the World Marrow Donor Association, registries must demonstrate that they are committed to WMDA standards in 9 categories, including donor recruitment, information technology, facilitation of search requests, collection & transport of stem cells, patient & donor follow-up, and financial/legal liabilities.

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2007: Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry becomes OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network

2007 marks a major shift for the Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Bone marrow is the home of 'stem cells' which are the building blocks of blood itself. However, stem cells are also found in the peripheral blood stream (circulating blood) and in umbilical cord blood.

Canadian Blood Services supports the collection of stem cells from both the peripheral blood stream and bone marrow. Therefore, to better reflect the changes in stem cell donation and increase awareness and recognition of the organization, the Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry is renamed OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network.

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