Tzu Chi Q&A

A Glimpse into the Missions and Spirit of Tzu Chi

1. Why did Tzu Chi set up a bone marrow registry?

Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center has helped over 4,600 people in 30 countries with stem cells collected from bone marrow, peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood. (Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center)

In January 1993, a Taiwanese student in the U.S. suffering from leukemia visited Master Cheng Yen and pleaded with her to set up a bone marrow registry in Taiwan. However, at the time, bone marrow transplant from unrelated donors was not allowed in Taiwan.

In May the same year, the Taiwanese government amended the law to lift the legal restriction on marrow donation. After making sure that donating bone marrow was harmless to health, Master Cheng Yen accepted the Taiwanese government’s commission and set up a bone marrow registry in October 1993. In 2002, the registry was renamed Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center.

2. Is Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center internationally accredited?

Yes. Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center received benchmark accreditation in 2010 and full accreditation in 2015 from the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA), a voluntary organization overseeing the international exchange of blood stem cells and promoting the interest of volunteer donors. With the accreditation, Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center has become an international marrow database. It is now one of the largest marrow registries in the world.

3. How many potential donors have registered with Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center?

As of June 2017, Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center had listed over 414,000 potential donors.

4. How many people have found a matched donor from Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center?

By June 2017, more than 4,700 people in 30 countries have found a matched donor and received bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells from Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center.

At a “Meet Your Donor” event organized by Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center, a bone marrow recipient from Vietnam expresses his deepest gratitude to his donor in Taiwan. (Wang Xian-huang)

5. What support does Tzu Chi offer to a potential donor once a match has been confirmed?

During a peripheral blood stem cell donation procedure, Tzu Chi volunteers massage the donor to alleviate the discomfort of numbness
in his fingers. (Lin Li-tang)

Tzu Chi has a care team of volunteers in Taiwan who provide support to donors throughout the donation process. For example, should potential donors or their family members have concerns about the procedure, the care team will provide them with information or help to communicate with the donors’ families. Before the procedure, the care team will look after the donors’ health by often bringing them nutritious food. After the procedure, they’ll give whatever help is needed, such as taking the donors’ children to and picking them up from school, doing laborious house chores on their behalf, and so on.

6. Who is eligible to become a potential donor on Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center?

Anyone aged 18 to 45 with good health conditions is welcome to join Tzu Chi’s bone marrow registry. For more information, please go to https://goo.gl/JZeBem.

7. How do I know when and where a Tzu Chi’s bone marrow donor registry drive is held?

Tzu Chi’s bone marrow donor registry drives are held at irregular intervals in different parts of Taiwan. To find out the date and place of a registry drive, please visit https://goo.gl/JZeBem.

If you live in the U.S., please visit Tzu Chi USA’s Website at https://goo.gl/ERCLgK.

8. Whom should I contact if I have registered with Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center but moved to another country?

You can inform Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center about your new contact information. With your permission, the center will forward your information to a marrow donor registry in your country. The center will also keep your blood test information and contact you when there’s a match.