Joining the register

Why join the register

As a blood donor, you already provide a vital service to patients who need blood, and by registering with the British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR) you could help people even further.

All of our donors are made available for searching as potential matches for patients anywhere in the world.

Who can join

We are looking for:

  • male blood donors who are between 17 and 40 years old
  • women who are aged between 17 and 40 and of Black, Asian or mixed heritage

We use these criteria to target donors we are short of on the register. 

Why we need these stem cell donors

Young people - Clinical data shows us that transplants from younger donors are more successful. 

Men - There are many more women registered than men, but men are asked to donate much more often. In fact, in 2018 over 80% of our stem cell donors were men, but they only make up 44% of potential donors. 

Donors from a range of backgrounds - White patients are able to find the best possible match in 70% of cases. For people from other backgrounds, this drops to as low as 20%. This is why we recruit both men and women of Black, Asian or mixed heritage.

How to join

To join the register, simply tell the staff when you next give blood.

Give Blood – opens in new windowWe will check there is no medical reason preventing you from being both a blood donor and a stem cell donor.

At the time of your blood donation we will take an extra blood sample. This will enable us to extract your DNA to carry out Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing (often also known as tissue typing). This is the way we match patients and donors.

Please let the staff at the blood donation session know that you want to join the BBMR before your blood donation is completed.

Other registries

You may be able to join other registries if you don't meet our criteria. 

Our UK partners are: 

Donors in Wales may consider the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry, which is operated by the Welsh Blood Service

You only need to join one UK registry as we anonymously share matching information.

Keep your contact details up to date

Let us know if your personal or contact details have changed

If you want to leave the British Bone Marrow Registry, please call 0300 123 23 23 or email

What happens next once you've joined

We will add your tissue type onto our confidential digital register. 

We will keep a sample of your DNA to enable more detailed testing relating to stem cell donation in the future. You can ask us to discard this sample at any time. 

Patients and potential donors are matched by comparing HLA (tissue) types. If you come up as a potential match, we will contact you to discuss the process and ask for further blood samples. 

Information about you

All information you provide to NHS Blood and Transplant is used in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation and all other relevant privacy and data protection laws. 

Your details remain on the register until your 60th birthday. If you are no longer eligible to give blood, please let us know as you may need to be taken off the register. 

What happens if I am a match for a patient?

If you are identified as the best possible match with a patient, we will invite you to come into one of our specialist centres for an explanation of the procedures.

You will also have a thorough medical examination by a doctor and you will be asked to give your consent for a number of blood tests, to ensure there is no medical reason why you shouldn't donate.

Read more about what happens if you are a match.

This is a serious commitment and you should consider the full implications for both you and the patient when you first complete the consent form and provide a blood sample for testing. If, however, you do not wish to proceed, you may withdraw at any stage.