Spanish Bone Marrow Donors Registry (REDMO)
"We have a clear objective: that no patient who is a transplant candidate is left without the possibility of being cured owing to the lack of a compatible donor in their family."
- Araceli, leukaemia patient
The Foundation created the Official Spanish Register of Bone Marrow Donors (REDMO) in 1991 to ensure that no leukaemia patient would be unable to receive a transplant because they did not have a compatible donor in their family. Only one in four patients who require a transplant has a donor in their family. For the remainder, the donation of bone marrow from a non-family donor is the only possibility of treatment.
Prior to the Foundation's creation of REDMO, Spanish patients were unable to access the registers of donors held by other developed Western countries. This clearly constituted a serious impediment to the treatment of a large number of patients.
The Foundation succeeded in establishing mechanisms for integrating international registers in Europe and North America which allowed patients and medical staff the possibility of accessing millions of donors who had already consented to offering a bone marrow donation in the event that it was required by a patient in any part of the world.
The full development of REDMO and its integration with the public service network of the National Health System was completed in 1994 with the signing of the first General Agreement between our organization and the Ministry of Health. A second General Agreement which revised the objectives and procedures of the partnership has been in place since 2009 and takes into account scientific advances and legislative changes that have been introduced regarding the transplantation of tissues.
The Foundation has subscribed agreements to work together with all the Autonomous Communities in order to guarantee coordination promoting donation and that the search processes for non-family donors function correctly and allow patients to find a suitable donor.
REDMO works with more than 100 hospitals in Spain, including third level centres accredited for performing transplants of hematopoietic stem cells from bone marrow, peripheral blood or umbilical cord blood from non-family donors. These are currently the three sources from which the cells transplanted to the patient are obtained. Likewise, REDMO receives search requests for foreign patients through the same international registers.
Today, the Foundation's Spanish Register of Bone Marrow Donors currently holds over 130,000 categorized bone marrow donors and more than 58,000 units of stored umbilical cord blood. REDMO is connected to the international network and has access to more than 22 million voluntary donors and more than 600,000 units of umbilical cord blood available throughout the world for each search.
In comparative terms, in terms of marrow donor rates, Spain still does not occupy a position that corresponds with its level of development. Other countries have much higher donation rates. However, Spain is third in the world ranking of units of stored umbilical cord blood and in terms of availability to patients. This is something which has been made possible by the generosity of the stem-cell donors and the excellent work of the Spanish umbilical cord blood banks. The Foundation is especially proud of having contributed to this important achievement since for more than five years it has been supporting the development of the Barcelona Umbilical Cord Blood Bank with great commitment and a large amount of resources as part of a program run with the Deutsche José Carreras Leukämie Stiftung e.V., our "sister" organization in Germany, and the Cord Blood Bank of the University of Düsseldorf.
REDMO operates with the majority of the world registers using the online data processing system, the International Marrow Donor Information System (IMDIS). In the same manner, REDMO maintains electronic communication with Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW).
One of the Foundation's permanent objectives is to increase success rates in searches for donors and to reduce the length of time required. To this end, the Foundation makes a hugely significant annual donation to the improvement of REDMO's IT and telecommunications processes. The Official Register of Bone Marrow Donors is also committed to the continuous improvement of the services it provides to patients and service staff. In this area, by means of example, it is worth highlighting the progress made in the selection process for optimal umbilical cord units and the considerable reduction in the time that the transplant centre is required to dedicate to the process, or the improvements made in the coordination and execution of the transportation of donations made.
The statistics show that since the first non-family bone marrow transplant took place in 1979, the life expectancy of sufferers has increased significantly. By perfecting transplant techniques the number of lives saved can be increased if there is a donor available when the patient is ready to receive the transplant. Since its creation, REDMO has offered compatible donors to more than 6,000 patients.
Umbilical Cord Blood Centre
Through REDMO, the José Carreras Foundation makes a service available that is aimed at Spanish transplantation centres and facilitates the search for units of suitable umbilical cord blood for patients in need of a transplant without a compatible donor in their family.
The new system, which is included in the Ministry of Health and Social Policy's National Plan for Umbilical Cord Blood, is called the Umbilical Cord Blood Centre. It will improve the selection process of units of hematopoietic stem cells and REDMO will become one of the first registers in the world to put this pioneering initiative into action.
Umbilical cord blood transplants are becoming more and more frequent in adults and children suffering from leukaemia. Around 70% of searches for compatible donors carried out by REDMO include the ability to search for units of umbilical cord blood as well as bone marrow. Until recently, the José Carreras Foundation offered hospitals a list with the characteristics of the required cords and it was the responsibility of the hospital to carry out a study to select the best available unit. This system overburdened the process with complexity and the new initiative improves the efficiency of hospital centres.