REDMO: saving lives for 20 years
"In this world there is always one person waiting for another, be it in the middle of the desert or in the middle of a big city. And when those two people pass each other and their eyes meet, past and future lose all importance, and the only thing that exists is that moment and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun was written by the same hand, the hand that awakens love, and that makes a twin soul for everyone who works, rests and seeks treasures under the sun. Without this our human dreams would make no sense".
In 1988, José Carreras created the José Carreras International Foundation with the help of his family and a fantastic team of scientists and businessmen. The Foundation was established with the aim of finding a cure for leukaemia. The tenor started this project as a show of gratitude to science and wider society for all the attention and love that he received during his illness.
Twenty years ago, in 1991, the José Carreras Foundation established the Spanish registry of bone marrow donors (REDMO). Accredited by the Spanish Ministry of Health, REDMO is the only programme in our country that organizes the search for haematopoietic stem cells donors (bone marrow, peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood) for patients of leukaemia and other haematological malignancies who need a transplant but have no compatible family member. 3 out of every 4 patients that need a transplant find themselves in this situation, depending on the solidarity of an anonymous person.
José Carreras visiting a patient in an isolated ward that cares for people who have recently undergone a transplant.
Nowadays, REDMO has Access to more than 17 million registered bone marrow donors in the world and more than 500,000 umbilical cord blood units. At the time of Foundation's creation, Spanish patients could not undergo a bone marrow transplant if a compatible family member was not available. For this reason, the REDMO has provided an extraordinary advancement in the treatment of patients. From the moment of its conception the Jose Carreras Foundation has used the REDMO to pursue a fundamental objective: to reach the day when no patient that needs a transplant is left without the possibility of a cure because a compatible family member doesn't exist.
In 2009; José Carreras with the Secretary of Health, Trinidad Jiménez, reestablishing the agreement between the REDMO and the Ministry of Health
The statistics indicate that since the first bone marrow transplant to involve a patient and an unrelated donor in 1979, the life expectancy of the patients has notably increased. The perfecting of transplant techniques has increased the numbers of lives saved the cases where a donor is available in the moment that the patient is ready for a transplant. Since it was established the REDMO has found a compatible donor for more than 5,000 patients.
Total number of searches for a compatible donor for Spanish patients since 1992. For example, in 2010 768 searches were initiated. Source: REDMO Annual Report 2010 (in Spanish)
Thanks to REDMO, more than 2,600 people in Spain have been able to undergo a haemotopoietic stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor. In 1994, only 12 transplants from an unrelated donor were carried out which accounted for 0.8% of all haematopoietic stem cell transplant performed in Spain at that time (the rest correspond to transplants from family members or auto-transplants). By 2009, that percentage had risen to 15.4%.
Graph showing the evolution of haemotopoietic stem cell transplants from an unrelated donor since 1994. Source: REDMO Annual Report 2010 (in Spanish)
Graph showing all the haemotopoietic stem cell transplants until 2009. The graph includes autologous transplants (transplant from another part of the same patient's body), allogeneic transplants from a family member and allogeneic transplants from an unrelated donor. Source: ONT Annual Report 2010.
In comparative terms, Spain does not have the number of bone marrow donors that should correspond to its level of development. Other countries have much higher rates of donation. On the other hand, Spain is the second country in the world in terms of umbilical cord blood donors that are stored and made available for patients. This situation has probably developed due to the generosity of mothers and the excellent work of the Spanish cord banks. The Foundation feels particularly proud to have contributed to this work for the past 5 years. The Foundation in conjunction with its German counterpart, and the cord blood bank of the University of Düsseldorf, has invested many resources in the growth of the umbilical cord bank in Barcelona.
Graph showing the growth in the number of bone marrow donors in Spain
Graph showing the growth in the number of public umbilical cord blood storage units in Spain
At the José Carreras Foundation against Leukaemia we strive towards a grand objective. In fact it is more that, it is a great scientific and social challenge: to reach the day when leukaemia is a curable disease in all cases. The Bone Marrow Donors Registry is key to reaching this goal. For that reason we want to wish all those involved a very happy anniversary and we hope they enjoy many more years of success.
If you would like to read the 2010 REDMO Annual Report in full, please click HERE (in Spanish)
If you would like more information regarding the donation of bone marrow, please download the "Bone marrow donors guide" or read it online (spanish).