Cooperation without borders

Registries around the world continued to grow in 2020. By cooperating within the global network, they made transplantation a reality for patients – even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The benefits of global cooperation were particularly apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The international registries supported one another, in operational matters and in other ways, and regularly shared their experiences and knowledge with one another.

Upwards trend

At the end of 2020, over 37.5 million people were registered worldwide; about 1.5 million more than there were a year earlier (2019: 36 million). The number of blood stem cell donations also increased. Worldwide, blood stem cells were collected for transplantation to an unrelated recipient 20’330 times in 2019, compared to 18’962 times in 2018. Four-fifths* (16’406) of these donations were peripheral blood stem cell collections; the other 3924 were bone marrow collections. This is in line with the data for previous years.

* WMDA Global Trends Report 2019. Due to the complexity of data collection and evaluation, the most recent figures available are for 2019.

Global solidarity

Thanks to the international network of registries, patients have a chance of finding a suitable donor. This applies for Switzerland as well. There were 154 transplant procedures performed in Switzerland with blood stem cells from an unrelated donor in 2020: in only 11 of these was the donation collected in Switzerland. Only 11, but the figure was considerably lower in 2019 (4).

The donations originated in a total of 15 countries, with Germany providing the most (79), followed by Poland (19) and the USA (13). These are also the countries that have the largest registries.

The 70 blood stem cell donations and 4 cord blood donations originating in Switzerland went to the USA (16), France (6), the United Kingdom (6) and to 16 other countries (including Switzerland).

3 19 2 2 1 CZ 3 2 79 5 13 16 2 1 11 11 4 9 6 7 5 4 4 6 1 CY 2 FI 1 EE 1 HR 1 NO 2

Origin of products for Swiss patients 2020

Destination of Swiss products 2020

New IT platform

Apart from the Covid-19 pandemic, the main focus of attention in the World Marrow Donor Association in 2020 was on modernising the database in which all searches for unrelated donors worldwide are conducted. To some extent, this system relies on platforms that were developed decades ago; the aim now is to replace these with a modern IT environment. In 2020, the WMDA evaluated potential solutions with the help of a grant from the EU. The Swiss registry, which is responsible for financial affairs within the WMDA board, is actively advocating a solution that is affordable and will not necessitate an increase in member fees. The additional financial challenges facing many registries as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic makes this aspect all the more important.