The ONT and the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation celebrate 25 million bone marrow donors worldwide

  • It is an encouraging figure that increases the possibilities of finding an unrelated donor for any patient who needs it, wherever he or she lives.

  • In spite of this rise, both the ONT and the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation encourage citizens to become marrow donors.

  • Spain already has more than (175.791) donors, a figure that has grown more than 70% over the last two years, thanks to the National Marrow Plan. Also, 60,000 cord blood units are stored in our country. 

  • According to ONT-REDMO data, 5,796 people have decided to become bone marrow donors since the beginning of the year.

  • Throughout 2014, ONT-REDMO began 855 compatible donor searches. Also, 80 Spanish bone marrow donors carried out their donations.

  • Each year, around 5,000 new cases of leukaemia are diagnosed, many of which need a bone marrow transplant. 

The ONT and the Josep Carreras Foundation celebrate the 25 million bone marrow donors reached worldwide. The WMDA, the organization that unites the main donor registries in the world, and the BMDW, the worldwide organization for bone marrow donors, made the information public today during the 41st annual EBMT (European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation) meeting, taking place in Istanbul.

Both for the ONT and for the Josep Carreras Foundation, this is an encouraging figure, which increases the hopes of saving the lives of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. In spite of this, both institutions encourage citizens to find out about bone marrow donation and the requirements for becoming a donor.


Spain already has more than 175,791 donors, a figure that has grown more than 70% in the last two years thanks to the National Bone Marrow Donor Programme. The ONT launched this Programme in January 2013, with the help of Spanish Autonomous Communities, the Josep Carreras Foundation, professionals and patient organizations, with doubling the number of donors in 4 years as a goal, thus reaching 200,000 donors. For its development, the Ministry of Health, Equality and Social Services has allocated over 2 million euros between 2013 and 2014. This money allowed the financing of blood type analysis, with the help of Autonomous Communities.

The results of this Programme are encouraging too. During 2014, 32,929 new bone marrow donors signed up and, since the beginning of the year this figure has grown with 5,796 new donors. To these donors, the more than 60,000 cord blood units available in the 7 Spanish public blood banks must be added. Eleven per cent of all units available worldwide are in our country. Cord blood is another source of stem cells (haematopoietic progenitor cells), which are used in marrow transplants.

Each year more than 5,000 people are diagnosed with leukaemia in Spain. Many of them will need a bone marrow transplant to get over the disease. Three in every four patients will not have a compatible donor in their family. This is why bone marrow donation, one of the few donations that can be performed with live donors and the only one in which the donated cells completely regenerate, is essential for many of these patients.



The information on the people who have decided to become bone marrow donors is stored in a national database. It’s the Spanish Bone Marrow Donor Registry (REDMO), managed by the Josep Carreras Foundation, assigned by the Ministry of Health, Equality and Social Services in collaboration with the ONT. REDMO is one of the national databases linked to the World Registry. REDMO has cooperation agreements with all Autonomous Communities to manage the national donor database, the proper operation of unrelated donor search and the obtaining and transport of the donation. 

REDMO works with all the Spanish public hospitals that perform bone marrow transplants from unrelated donors (allogeneic transplants). REDMO is in charge of the bone marrow donor and cord blood search for any Spanish patient who needs it, both inside and outside our country if necessary, from among the 25 million donors worldwide. The also manage the requests from foreign counterpart registries when the ideal donor is Spanish.

Throughout 2014, REDMO undertook 855 compatible donor searches for patients. Also, during the same period, 80 bone marrow donors carried out their donation for a foreign or Spanish patient (43 for Spanish patients and 37 for foreign patients).

Since 1991, 8,788 searches have been performed for Spanish patients at the Bone Marrow Donor Registry (REDMO), which have allowed the location of 11,258 compatible bone marrow and cord blood units. Because of this, 4,600 haematopoietic progenitor cell transplants (bone marrow and peripheral or cord blood), have been performed in our country.

Also, REDMO has studied the compatibility degree of 2,372 Spanish donors and located 1,821 cord blood units for foreign patients, which have allowed 2,158 transplants in other countries to take place.

Throughout these years (1991-2014), REDMO has evaluated 15,451 Spanish donors and cord blood units allowing 6,758 patients all over the world to receive a haematopoietic progenitor cell transplant.


Both the ONT and the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation are thankful for the generosity of the 25 million people who are already donors. But this figure does not seem to be enough, for it represents 1% of adult population worldwide. According to the WMDA, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer every 3 minutes somewhere in the world. Many of these people will need a bone marrow transplant. Nowadays, a donor is found for most patients, but not for every one. This is the final goal.

According to ONT-REDMO data, the probability of finding a donor in three months is 79%, the average donor search time in 2014 being 36 days. This percentage can reach 100% in children and go over 90% in adults if available cord blood units are taken into account.


Bone marrow donation can save lives and requires a relatively simple process, although it is necessary to read all the information about the donation calmly. Any person between 18 and 55 years old who lives in Spain, is in good health and has thoroughly reviewed what this commitment entails, can put their name down as a bone marrow donor. It is important to remember that, although anyone who fulfils these requirements can become a donor young donors (between 18 and 35 years old) are especially necessary.

Bone marrow donation in our country is voluntary and altruistic. It is governed by the international solidarity principal. Anyone who has signed up as a bone marrow donor is available for haematopoietic progenitor cell donation for anybody in the world who needs it.

Additional information at:

National Bone Marrow Donor Programme: T. 900 102 688

Webpage updated 02/11/2022 12:08:59