International registries: slower growth

The international registries continue to grow, albeit at a pace slower than that seen before the pandemic. At the end of 2022*, over 42.6 million potential donors were listed in registries in 55 countries around the world.

The reasons for the moderate growth in the number of new registrations worldwide (down 7.8% compared to 2021) have to do with the fact that it is increasingly difficult to motivate young people to register. It seems as if the importance of doing good and voluntarily committing to help others had lessened in the wake of the corona virus pandemic.

There was no change in the age and sex distribution of registered donors between 2021 and 2022: 42 per cent of all people registered are under the age of 36. The percentage of men overall is 43 per cent; in the under-36 age group, it is 41 per cent, as it was in 2021. Registries around the world are continuing their efforts to update the data on registered blood stem cell donors and thus to increase registry quality.
In terms of their geographic breakdown, 43 per cent of all potential blood donors are registered in Europa, 23.4 per cent in North America, 19.7 per cent in Asia, 13.1 per cent in South America, 0.5 per cent in Oceania and 0.3 per cent in Africa. These figures are better understood as an indicator for the quality of the local health systems than for the size of the continent’s population.

* WMDA Global Trends Report 2022. Due to the complexity of data collection and evaluation, the most recent figures available are those for 2022.

Global: exchange important

Overall, 46 per cent of stem cell donations are provided for a patient who lives in another country. This percentage has remained within a fairly narrow range for the past 15 years – with a slight decline in 2021 due to the pandemic. Asian countries usually have a high level of self-sufficiency of supply (99 per cent domestic donors for domestic recipients). Among European countries, Switzerland clearly has the lowest level of self-sufficiency (2023: 3 per cent).

The number of blood stem cell donations worldwide rose by 22.6 per cent in 2022 compared to 2021. Procedures to collect blood stem cells transplantation to an unrelated recipient were performed 21,767 times in 2022 (21,206 times in 2021), and 2,450 units of cord blood stem cells (2021: 2,584) were shipped. Around 88 per cent (19,108) of the collections took the form of procedures to collect peripheral blood stem cells. Bone marrow collections accounted for a total of 2,659 procedures.

Switzerland: global give and take

It is thanks to the global network of registries that patients have a good chance of finding a suitable donor. Switzerland is no exception in this regard. The more mixed a patient’s ethnic background is, the more challenging the search for a suitable donation becomes. This works both ways; there is strong global demand for donations from the Swiss registry.

A case in point: of the 199 unrelated donor transplant procedures performed in Switzerland in 2023 (2022: 175), only six involved transplant material collected in Switzerland. This is the same as the 2022 number, despite the fact that more transplant procedures were performed in Switzerland in 2022.

The donations transplanted to patients in Switzerland came from a total of 23 different countries (incl. Switzerland), with Germany accounting for the most (95), followed by Poland (29) and the USA (16). These are countries that have a large number of donors in their registries.

The 81 blood stem cell donations and one cord blood donation collected in Switzerland went to the USA (18), the UK (9), France and Germany (8 each), and 18 other countries (including Switzerland.

Origin of products 2023 for Swiss patients

Destination of products 2023 from Swiss donors

WMDA: reaccreditation successful

After reviewing the Swiss registry of blood stem cell donors and our activities, the WMDA’s Accreditation Committee approved the registry’s reaccreditation (first accreditation in 2017) – with a good result.

13th IDRC/WMDA Global Meeting, Hanau 2023

The WMDA has described the international meeting in Hanau, Germany, as one of 2023’s highlights from their perspective, and they are not alone in this. The delegation from Swiss Transfusion SRC also greatly appreciated the opportunities for personal and international exchange afforded by the International Donor Registry Conference and the WMDA Global Meeting in Hanau, which directly followed it. Registries around the world are struggling with similar problems, for instance, declining numbers of new registrations or decreasing availability among registered donors. Swiss Transfusion SRC was able to present a brief summary of its registry information update and availability check programme, a successful measure designed to increase the quality of contact and health data, and thereby increase availability as well. As one might expect, there was considerable interest in the presentation.