‘Match Tour’, the new campaign to promote bone marrow donation

The acting Minister of Health, José Miñones, has presented ‘Match Tour’, the new campaign of the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Josep Carreras Foundation to promote bone marrow donation, which starts this Friday in Barcelona and will tour 17 cities until October 31.

Promoting the Spanish Registry of Bone Marrow Donors (REDMO) with the incorporation of young people is the main objective of the ‘Match Tour’ campaign. A tour for love, love for life’, on the occasion of World Bone Marrow Donor Day, which is celebrated every year on the third Saturday of September.

The minister was accompanied at the event by the Secretary of State for Health, Silvia Calzón, the general director of the National Transplant Organisation (ONT), Beatriz Domínguez-Gil, and the Director of REDMO, Juliana Villa, the disseminating nurse Esther Gómez, the bone marrow transplant patient María Revuelta and Marcos de La Fuente, bone marrow donor.

In his speech, Miñones encouraged the youngest people to be properly informed about bone marrow donation and register in REDMO, managed by the Josep Carreras Foundation, by designation of the Ministry of Health: “Becoming a bone marrow donor is a brave decision. It demonstrates extraordinary solidarity with any citizen of the world who may need a transplant and does not have a compatible donor in their family environment. With good information and a small gesture, a life can be saved.”

The campaign is part of the National Bone Marrow Plan (PNMO) and is a joint initiative of the ONT, the autonomous communities and the Josep Carreras International Foundation against Leukaemia.

The “A match for life” initiative began in 2019. This year, the campaign seeks to attract the attention of younger potential donors, between 18 and 40 years old, especially men, and reach 500,000 donors registered with REDMO, in line with the objectives of the National Bone Marrow Plan.

A tour of 17 Spanish cities in 45 days

The chosen motto maintains the same line as the previous proposal, but translates into more direct action. “Match Tour. A tour of love, love of life” is, again, based on an analogy about the use of applications to find a partner and the difficulties of finding the right one. On this occasion, it will be a bus that, over 45 days, travels through 17 Spanish cities, to which Andorra has joined.

As explained in the information that will be provided to interested parties, the probability of finding a compatible non-related bone marrow donor is 1 in 3,500. The campaign seeks to raise awareness and inform young people in a relaxed atmosphere, which is why performances and games will be held on the bus. In addition, a team of health professionals will provide specific information about what this type of donation entails and will register people who wish to do so as donors. There will be a specific area enabled to extract samples from registered donors on site.

The cities, in addition to Andorra, in which the campaign will be presented are: Barcelona, ​​Bilbao, Cáceres, La Laguna, Logroño, Madrid, Murcia, Oviedo, Palma de Mallorca, Pamplona, ​​Salamanca, Santander, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Toledo, Valencia and Zaragoza.

The campaign starts this Friday in Barcelona and will continue until October 31 in Madrid. The address to access the website created specifically for this is www.unmatchxunavida.com and there you will find all the practical information about the bus route. The campaign can be followed through the official social media profiles of the ONT, the regional transplant coordination bodies and the Josep Carreras Foundation.

Miñones has also highlighted the qualitative improvement of the PNMO’s typing (characterisation of donors) to increase its effectiveness. “There is little point in having many registered donors if they cannot donate later,” she explained. This objective is also intended to be achieved by rejuvenating the Registry and facilitating the incorporation of male donors to balance the gender of the registered people.

The REDMO data precisely demonstrate the need to incorporate men into the registry, since, in 2022, 64% of donors were women and 36% men. However, the probability of a man becoming an effective donor triples that of women, since they are the most requested by the teams, as their donation is related to better results after the transplant. Regarding age, half of all available donors were under 40 years of age, according to the REDMO report for 2022, and the average age of donors incorporated in 2022 was 27 years.

Improving self-sufficiency, that is, the ability to find a donor in the Spanish Registry for a patient residing in our country is another priority aspect for the PNMO. In this regard, the objective is to ensure that 35% of bone marrow transplants from non-relative donors in Spain are performed with donors registered in REDMO. So far this year, our self-sufficiency is 34%. In 2012, it barely reached 4%.

Bone marrow donation in figures

Our country already has more than 480,000 bone marrow donors in the REDMO (as of September 1, 2023). Added to these are 62,409 units of umbilical cord blood stored in Spain, 8% of those stored in the world (804,832), being the largest record in Europe and the third globally, behind the United States and Taiwan.

Since the ONT launched the PNMO at the end of 2012 until today, the number of donors has almost multiplied by 5 (from 107,000 to more than 480,000) and actual donations have increased by 800% (from 35 in 2012 to 320 in 2022).

In the first half of 2023, 209 effective donations have been made. The growth in effective donations (30% in 2022 and 30% in 2023) places REDMO in 4th position in Europe and 11th position worldwide in terms of efficiency.

There are more than 40 million registered bone marrow donors in the world. When a medical team requests a donor, REDMO searches for it all over the world.

Requests for effective donations from REDMO donors by international registries increased by 40% last year compared to 2021.

Currently, the median search time to find a compatible donor through REDMO is 27 days.

REDMO is the only official program in Spain in charge of managing the bone marrow donor database, data that is received directly from the Autonomous Communities; the worldwide search for compatible donors for Spanish patients and the coordination of the transportation of bone marrow, peripheral blood or umbilical cord blood from the place of collection to the transplant centre. REDMO also receives requests to search for compatible Spanish donors for foreign patients submitted by the Registries of other countries.