This information page is for search coordinators and transplant coordinators who are performing searches to inform them about the changes in operations of registries that are impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
A novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019. WHO declared a global health emergency on 30 January 2020, and a number of blood and tissue donor guidelines have been issued - largely based on previous guidelines for SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Like SARS and MERS, SARS-CoV-2 displayed high mortality but low infectivity in the early weeks, with limited person-to-person transmission. However, the epidemic quickly changed to display lower mortality but higher infectivity with increasing evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission. Various public health measures taken at a local or national level are likely to aid and/or complicate donor assessment, while the rapid evolution of the epidemic demands a precautionary yet flexible approach to suitability guidelines.
- Coronavirus - 2019-nCoV: donor eligibility criteria (updated on March 3, 2020)
- Publication in Bone Marrow Transplantation: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41409-020-0873-x
- Link to request for assistance from WMDA International Emergency Task Force
- The WMDA International Emergency Task Force is collaborating with registries, governments and courier companies to ensure continuity of care best they can. If you have specific questions for this group, you can send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Find Gabi Ral's webinar with an update (March 25, 2020) here.
- Assistance is selection of cord blood unit - what do you have to do? Click here.
- European waiver and link to European information (update March 26 for exchange for product to and within the EU Member States)
- Frequently Asked Questions from WMDA members (only for WMDA members)
- Cornovirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the supply of substances of human origin in the EU/EEA
- Article in The Guardian on March 18: link: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/18/cancer-stem-cells-coronavirus-logistical-nightmare
- Article in the Lancet Oncology: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(20)30201-1/fulltext#.XnzKzWhNWpw.twitter
Information for healthcare professionals:
Recommendations from professional societies
Worldwide Network For Blood & Marrow Transplantation (WBMT)
AABB has developed a valuable webpage including all information on how to ensure donor care and a safe environment for donors. Have a look on their website, click here.
American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (ASTCT)
European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT)
- EBMT duly recognises a public concern regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 and the approaching 46th Annual Meeting of the EBMT. Based on the current information, the EBMT Annual Meeting will be held on August 30 till September 2 2020 in Madrid, Spain.
- EBMT recommendations: https://www.ebmt.org/covid-19-and-bmt (scroll down a bit to find a link to the most recent version of the COVID-19 guidelines).
- Update March 30: EMBT guidelines
- Update March 30: EBMT newsletter
Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT)
Information from courier companies
Ontime Onboard Courier/ECS
We are constantly monitoring all developments, which involves being in contact with relevant customers about possible scenarios and solutions. We are also working on Plan Bs and Cs to make sure the live saving product is securely transported from the donor to the patient in need. Selection of the most suitable couriers and transport routing is as always our highest priority! Please feel free to contact us anytime, if questions or queries occur: email@example.com We are always happy to assist you.
Time:matters (update March 16)
Time:matters Stem Cell Courier Services are operational and we continue to tailor stem cell courier transport solutions worldwide within the existing legal limits and currently existing travel restrictions. We exchange on a regular basis information within the international WMDA Emergency Task Force working on transport contingency plans for the entire WMDA community. Currently, the biggest challenge for transport planning are the short-term changes in international travel (e.g.immigration restrictions, flight availability, quarantine protocols), which require flexibility from all parties involved. Therefore, we recommend that TCs and registries contact their authorities at an early stage that they can apply for an possible exemption for stem cell couriers when travel restrictions are introduced or tightened. In this crisis time:matters Group will follow the official advise of WHO, respective national governments, state governments and Lufthansa Group!
Please contact our stem cell team at firstname.lastname@example.org for any inquiries. Existing bookings will be administered and reassessed in connection with the changed regulation. We will contact you proactively if we need to discuss alternative options.
Health and Availability Check for Transplant Centres
Read here information from DKMS how they can organise a health availability check without blood collection instead of conventional Confirmatory/Verification Typing
Information from WMDA registries (in alphabetical order)
Belgium Marrow Donor Programme Belgium (ION-4201)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/QxJcAQ
- Update April 2: The MDPB applies the following policy in line with the guidelines for blood donors:
Deferral after COVID-19 infection = 28 days after symptoms resolution and end of the treatment
Deferral after contact with a COVID-19 patient = 28 days
Deferral after travel or contact with a person who traveled in a high-risk area = no deferr
Suitability of the donor must be evaluated on COVID-19 symptoms: gastrointestinal & fever & respiratory symptoms in the last 28 days. And on exhaustive interrogation on possible contacts with COVID-19 patients, the last 28 days is mandatory
PCR or antibody testing of the donor is not needed.
Source freezing is an option for intercontinental or airplane transportation. Not for quarantine reason but for travel hurdles.
Post-donation donor information in case of complaints till 14 days after the donation is advised.
- Update March 30: Due to the current situation, as of 2020-03-31 until further notice, the Marrow Donor Program Belgium will no longer send blood samples abroad. Transplant centres will be able to do a typing request including IDM request. When contacting the donor, a Health & Availability check will be done. In cases where CT request is received via EMDIS or fax/E-mail, the request will be denied. The requesting center will be advised to do a typing request for the complete (A B C DRB1 DQB1 DPB1) HR typing instead, simultaneously with a IDM request. The Health & Availability check will be done by phone immediately when receiving the request. You will be informed by E-mail or via EMDIS as soon as we know that the donor is available. We will also reserve the donor for 3 months for your patient. If the donor without regular CT is further requested for donation, the blood samples will be taken in addition to the pre-collection samples. These additional CT samples must be requested together with the work-up request.
Canada Canadian Blood Services Stem Cell Registry (ION-5103)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/fxJcAQ
- Update March 27:
Canada Héma-Québec Registry (ION-6912)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/display/WMDAREGMEMBER/ION-6912#/
- Update March 16: As of March 18th, international flights will be permitted to land only at the international airports in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued a statement in which he announced that Canada is barring entry to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or Americans. There does not seem to be any restriction for Canadians leaving the country but no person exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed to board a plane to Canada and air operators will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every passenger based on guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada. All returning travellers will have to undergo a 14 day isolation period prior to resuming normal activities. These measures will be in place until further notice but the Prime Minister warns that they are subject to change as the situation progresses. Héma-Québec is working closely with Canadian Blood Services and courier services in order to find solutions to minimize the impact on international stem cell transportation and will follow-up with relevant up-dates on the situation.
China Marrow Donor Program (CMDP) (ION-2197)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/mRJcAQ
- Update March 3:
Policy: In response to the novel coronavirus (currently named COVID-19), CMDP has established the policy of hematopoietic stem cell donation for the period of epidemic prevention & control according to Chinese government's request and the WMDA's guidance. In the current situation, the work of CMDP is suffering some limitations and could not be carried out normally as before. But for individual cases, especially for those in critical condition and have no alternative treatment, CMDP would assess relevant risks and feasibility, and make reasonable arrangements so as to ensure the safety of donors, patients and employees of CMDP.
- Postpone donation: According to the novel coronavirus – guidance of WMDA, it is recommended to postpone donation in case of donors coming from risk area, or contacting with a confirmed case, or with History of COVID-19 infection. The deferred period would follow the WMDA's guidance.
- Search & Match: CMDP accepts searching request from overseas registries as usual. The follow-up procedures might be affected by a lot of factors, 1) local situation of infection prevention and control where matched donors reside, 2) donors’ history of travel and close contact with COVID-19 infection, 3) the safety measures and capability of relevant PE center and collection center, and 4) the willingness of donors and their families in such situations.
- CT requests: Due to the spread of COVID-19 around the world, Hong Kong SAR government restricts entry of travelers from mainland China until 8th May. As a result, CT blood samples from CMDP donors could not be shipped to oversea destinations during this period. This situation might be adjusted according to the decision of Hong Kong SAR government.
- Transplant and collection plan: CMDP will make suggestions based on situation of collection center and donor’s local infection prevention & control condition, which will be finalized by both parties on the premise of flight confirmed.
CMDP would report to WMDA if any critical contingency occurs.
And we are grateful to the understanding of worldwide registries as to this special situation.
Let's work together to get through this hard time.
Cyprus Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ION-9751)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/xxJcAQ
- Update March 20: The Cyprus Government has imposed new measures regarding traveling to Cyprus: All flights to and from Larnaca (LCA) and Paphos (PFO) International Airport from some countries, with the exception of cargo and humanitarian flights, as of 03:00 (local time) on Saturday, March 21, until Saturday, April 4, all flights will be suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The countries affected by the suspension are: Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Egypt, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the UK, and Greece.
Authorities have also instructed all hotels and tourist accommodation to cease operations by Saturday, March 21, and to remain closed until Thursday, April 30. All tourists will be required to leave their accommodation in Cyprus by March 21. Meanwhile, an entry ban on all foreign travelers, except for Cyprus nationals and individuals with a residence permit, remains in place since Sunday, March 15. Individuals who are authorized to enter Cyprus will need to submit a medical certificate from a doctor in the country of origin to prove that they do not have COVID-19 and will be placed under mandatory 14-day quarantine at accommodation facilities provided by the government. Additionally, the government has suspended all private businesses, including retail stores, night clubs, hotels, and malls as a precautionary measure.
The Health Ministry has confirmed 67 cases of the virus in Cyprus as of Thursday, March 19.
Czechia Czech National Marrow Donor Registry Plzeň (ION-5440)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/1xJcAQ
Update March 18: Czech borders are closed for all non-citizens from 13.03.2020 with some exceptions including transport of the stem cell graft. The complete information is provided here https://www.mvcr.cz/docDetail.aspx?docid=22239939&docType=ART.
Permit letter is required to confirm the courier/courier company performs activities ensuring the provision of basic needs of life of citizens of the state. The permit letter will be issued by our registry/health authorities and is provided here.
- CNMDR accepts searching request from transplant centres and registries as usual, without any restrictions
VT & Workup:
- CNMDR advises the Czechia transplant centres to consider selecting local (national) donors other than foreign ones to avoid any delays or cancellations due to travel restrictions.
- To clarify the risk of infection on donors, CNMDR surveys the donors at both VT & Workup stages. If the donors have related symptoms, history of contact with COVID-19 cases or have been exposed to the risk area, the donation process on the donors will be deferred for four (4) weeks. The transplant centre will be notified immediately once an ineligibility or deferral is determined.
- CNMDR will also survey the donors 14 days after the collections to determine if the donors are at the risk of COVID-19 infection and will notify the transplant centre as needed.
Organisation of HSC product export and import:
- CNMDR will assess each shipment of HSC product individually according to the country from or to the product is shipped.
- In general, any export of a HSC product from the CNMDR donor abroad is primarily ensured by a receiving registry or transplant centre in close cooperation with CNMDR. CNMDR provides the partner organization with all information and documents regarding measures in Czechia, including necessary permit letters to allow traveling with product.
- The import to the Czech Republic will be arranged in close cooperation with the partner registry and its contracted collection centre, depending on the country's COVID-19 measures and restrictions. CNMDR provides the partner organization with all information and documents regarding measures in Czechia, including necessary permit letters to allow traveling with product.
Czechia Czech Stem Cell Registry (ION-4753)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/3xJcAQ
- Update March 18: As Czech citizens are not allowed to travel anywhere (with some expections) at least till 24 March, and this restriction can be prolonged till 11 April, we are not able to perform VTs. We can offer full typing from frozen sample (if available) + check donor health status and availability. Work-ups of donors already after VT cannot be processed till 11 April.
- Update March 17: Czech Stem Cells Registry stays operational, however with declaration of emergency state in the Czech republic for at least 30 days and gradually tightening restrictions imposed by the government of the Czech Republic, we cannot predict whether and how we will be able perform our services. Czech borders are closed for all non-citizens from 13.03.2020 with some exceptions including transport of the stem cell graft. Permit letters are required. Information from Czech Ministry of Internal Affairs: https://www.mvcr.cz/docDetail.aspx?docid=22239939&docType=ART Please kindly send all communication via e-mail: email@example.com
Denmark Danish Stem Cell Donors East (ION-7484)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/display/WMDAREG/Operational+Information+ION-7484#/
- Update March 26: The registry stays operational. We can be reached on telephone (+45) 3545 3970 during normal working hours or by E-mail DSDE.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Donors follow the national laws and recommendations from the Danish Government and Danish Health Authority.
- The registry accepts cryopreservation of products.
- Danish borders are closed but transportation of hematopoietic stem cell products for Danish or international patients is accepted as one of the creditable exceptions. The registry makes individual arrangements for each transport. The registry informs the police on the border when a transportation has been arranged. Additionally, the registry will provide the courier with a documentation to show at the border including a 24/7 telephone number to the medical director of the registry.
Denmark Stem Cell Donors West (ION-2015)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/6xJcAQ
- Update March 19: The registry stays operational. It varies if staff is working home or will be in the office. You will always be able to reach us by e-mail using: email@example.com
- Donors is routinely asked about travel activity within last 6 months and if they have any flu-like symptoms
- Donors are advised to follow the safety measures from the Danish Government and health care authority.
- We will accept that product are cryopreserved.
- The Danish borders are closed, but persons with a creditable purpose are allowed to enter. Medicine is considered a creditable purpose. The registry will provide documentation for the courier to show at the border that will allow them to travel to the Transplant Center or Collection Center. The documentation will include a 24/7 phone number for the border police to confirm the purpose of the courier, if needed. link to attached file: "collection – permission for border"
France France Greffe De Moelle (FGM) (ION-1804)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/AxNcAQ
- Official statement, link (3rd stage of COVID-19 epidemic)
- FGM Registry Personnel: Since March 16, the whole personnel is working from home. International registries can continue to contact FGM registry as usual, by e-mails and/or using the dedicated cell phonenumber made available to each coordinator. For any urgent situation, use the Emergency contact email and/or telephone: firstname.lastname@example.org +33-6-88 22 35 28.
- Search requests: FGM registry is accepting search requests from international registries as usual.
- CT-process: FGM registry will temporarily stop providing blood samples at the VT stage for HLA typing and IDM testings. When contacting donors, donor centers will check donor availability and perform the health history screening questionnaire, which now includes screening for COVID-19 exposure. If further HLA typing is necessary, it will be carried out at any moment prior and closest to the donation process.
- Work-up requests: FGM registry will accept work-up requests as usual. All donors are asked about travel history, upcoming travel and exposure to COVID-19. All donors involved in a donation process (work-up or collection) are exempt from shelter-inplace orders, allowing them to access collection related appointments. Due to the epidemic situation in France leading to restricted access to the operating rooms, bone marrow collection cannot be performed from French donors until further notice. FGM registry recommends transplant centers to ask for PBSC collections.
- Stem cell donation recommendations: Recommendations of the national health competent authorities (without prejudice to any other measures concerning other infectious agents) :
- For donor selection: Donor’s medical history regarding SARS-CoV-2 exposure within 28bdays must be checked by a screening questionnaire.
- For donor qualification: In emergency situations which would not allow postponement, the donor biological eligibility is carried out by testing the donor for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus by gene amplification (RT-PCR) on a naso-pharyngeal swab and, if possible, on a blood sample (whole blood, serum or plasma). The results must be transmitted to the transplant team as soon as possible.
- All donors will be tested prior to collection, before the start of GCSF stimulation and also on the day of donation.
- Donors are asked to follow safety hygiene measures and to respect social isolation before collection and will be followed-up after the donation in order to check any symptoms of Covid-19.
- In donors having experienced documented SARS-CoV-2 infection, the collection can be possible 28 days after the resolution of symptoms.
- Transport of HPC collected from French donors or international donors:
- On March 16, 2020, the EU community produced guidelines for border management, including lifesaving products courier transport within Schengen area : https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-wedo/policies/european-agenda-migration/20200316_covid-19-guidelines-for-bordermanagement.pdf
- We currently maintain the supply of blood stem cell products from foreign donors to French patients and from French donors to international patients through any available transport options, in close collaboration with our regular transport companies.
- Because of the current state of travel and concerns, and in accordance with EBMT and national transplant society guidelines, we recommend all transplant centers to cryopreserve upon reception all unrelated donor product prior to initiation of patient
- conditioning. This recommendation is submitted to evolution according to the epidemic situation.
Germany ZKRD (ION-6939)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/FxNcAQ
- Update March 19: ZKRD Operative Information during COVID-19. ZKRD is working from remote. Main way of contact should be via email. Despite that, our emergency numbers are available as usual 24/7. Find here the complete information and the waiver.
- Search: ZKRD accepts search request from transplant centres and registries as usual, without any restrictions.
- CT and Workup Requests: Requests will be accepted as usual although provision of blood samples for confirmatory typing has become more challenging. We expect our partners to ensure that testing of samples provided is still available. To clarify the donor’s risk of infection, questioning has been extended for both CT and workup. If donors have relevant symptoms, a history of contact with COVID-19 cases or have been exposed to the risk area, the donors will be deferred for 4 weeks. The transplant centre will be notified immediately once ineligibility or deferral has been determined. There will be no test for SARS-CoV-2 performed on the respective donor or product, as there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted via bone marrow, blood or any blood product.
- Transport, Import and Export: For products involving DKMS donors: In case a courier is experiencing problems at the German border when entering or leaving Germany, you can call this mobile number: +49 174 192 59 36. For products from all other German donor centers, please call the following number of ZKRD's Transport Management for assistance if you experience difficulties at the German border: +49 731 1507 201. Please note that currently the ZKRD recommends to use couriers from Ontime and time:matters for pick-ups to or from international centers. Restrictions in air travel to and from Germany from countries outside the EU continue to increase and we are trying to obtain more information from the responsible government authorities. Currently citizens of non-EU countries will only be permitted to enter the country in cases of documented urgent need. All affected registries providing their own couriers should closely monitor travel restrictions and remain in contact with Transport Management. Despite controlled access at the borders to Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and France, ground transport of stem cells is still possible.
Hungary Hungarian Stem Cell Donor Registry (ION-1695)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/NRNcAQ
- Update March 30:
- The Registry operates mostly full capacity. We are available via email ( email@example.com )
- The Hungarian blood stem cell transplant activity is going on but we are also impacted by the restrictive measures that affect both courier travels and donor selection policies.
VT & Workup:
- HBMDR accepts searching request from registries as usual, though we are facing many challenges with getting blood samples and shipment to certain countries. Curfew restrictions will apply between March 28, 2020 until April 11, 2020. with some exceptions.
- To clarify the risk of infection on donors: If the donors have related symptoms, history of contact with COVID-19 cases or have been exposed to the risk area, the donation process on the donors will be deferred for four (4) weeks (according to the EBMT guideline).
Organisation of HSC product export and import:
- Hungarian borders are closed for all non-citizens from March 17, 2020 with some exceptions Permit letter is required. HBMDR provides the partner organization with permit letters to allow traveling with product. We are working hard with competent authorities to find suitable solutions for each transport individually and we are in close contact with the relevant registries and transport company. The emergency call number is : +36 30 5319502
- In order to prevent any risk of harm to the recipients, our medical committee strongly recommend allow the transplant centers to cryopreserve the products upon receipt and to start the conditioning regimen only after safe arrival of the product
Hong Kong Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ION-4070)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/pxJcAQ
- Update February 12:
Hong Kong Bone Marrow Donor Registry is facing a very difficult situation with risk of a lot of local infections and travel restrictions from/to other countries. At the moment, Hong Kong Bone Marrow Donor Registry will continue to provide hematopoietic stem cell donations for those confirmed cases both local and overseas. As it is uncertain when the infection will be settled, after seeking our hospital authority agreement, Hong Kong Bone Marrow Donor Registry will temporarily suspend to provide CT and work up for overseas patients. At the same time, Hong Kong Bone Marrow Donor Registry advises the Hong Kong transplant centres to consider selecting local donors other than overseas to avoid any delay or disappointment due to travel restrictions. The transplant centres in Hong Kong are also advised to use cord blood units which are readily available.
Please note there is also issue of our donors willingness to attend our facility for work up and donation. They express worries to visit health care facilities. Anyway, it is very challenging to healthcare system, public health, HSC and blood supply. WE are learning everyday. Kindly note: these precautions are implemented to act for the best interest of patients, donors and HSC products. To avoid unnecessary delay and disappointment due to travel restrictuion,alternative strategies though not the best one should be considered.
Israel Ezer Mizion Registry Israel Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ION-4987)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/hRNcAQ; statement, for print.
- Update March 30: see attachment here.
- Ezer Mizion registry is committed to continue and provide stem cells to patients all over the world; however our operations are impacted by the COVID-19 situation. The following updates are provided:
GENERAL Ezer Mizion staff is partially working from remote and we will not be able to answer all phone calls at the office. We recommend that the main way of contact should be via email. Our emergency numbers are available as usual 24/7.
- DONOR AVAILABILITY: On March 16th the authorities imposed significant restrictions on the general population in Israel: all citizens are requested to minimize their travelling to only essential daily needs until further notice. Please take into consideration that these measure significantly affects our donors' availability and we highly encourage transplant centers to work closely with our case managers to identifying a backup donor/product and consider alternative options whenever possible.
CRYOPRESERVATION OF PRODUCTS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED In order to prevent any risk of harm to the recipients, Ezer Mizion requests that all products be cryopreservation for every collection until further notice. This will allow the transplant centers to cryopreserve the products upon receipt and to start the conditioning regimen only after safe arrival of the product.
HEALTH SCREENING To clarify the risk of infection on donors, we implemented a designated appendix to the Health History Questionnaire in order to survey the donors for COVID-19 symptoms. If the donors have related symptoms, history of contact with COVID-19 cases or have been exposed to the risk area, the donation process on the donors will be deferred for four (4) weeks. The transplant centre will be notified immediately once an ineligibility or deferral is determined. At the moment we do not perform Coronavirus screening test. Ezer Mizion also surveys the donors 14 days after the collections to determine if the donors are at risk of COVID-19 infection and will notify the transplant centre as needed. \
- BONE MARROW COLLECTION Due to the current situation at the hospitals we will be able to accept BM requests only in cases of justified medical need (especially small children and patients where PBSC is no option). Also keep in mind that lowers than requested cell counts are often observed in BM products and additional cell loss due to cryopreservation may happen. Please consider to switch any BM request to PBSC where medically possible.
COURIER SERVICES Due to the restrictions imposed on foreigners to enter Israel and the increasing lack of passenger's flights that enforces big challenges on product transportation, we will only be able to process new WU requests with courier transport services provided by the Israeli branch of "Royale International" courier company. We will not be able to proceed to WU if the requesting registries persist on sending their own couriers. Information regarding the company's services is available at: https://www.royaleinternational.com/. Please note that due to specific security arrangements which are required at TLV airport, the courier costs will be higher than usual. We will work with the relevant registries regarding the specific customs requirements needed in every country to facilitate the product transport.
India DKMS-BMST Foundation by intermediary of DKMS Registry (ION-9935)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/d4JGE
- Update March 27:
- DKMS-BMST Operative Information during COVID-19. All the employees of DKMS-BMST are working from home. Main way of contact should be via email. Despite that, all our individual employees’ office land lines are forwarded to their respective mobile numbers or can contact directly to the mobile numbers.
- CT and Workup Requests: Note: - Till 14th of April, No organizing of blood samples for CT or no Physical Examination for the Donor at WU will be happening. Our Prime Minister Of India,
Mr. Narendra Modi, has announced entire INDIA – LOCKDOWN, with effective from 25th March 2020 - Midnight, 12.00 am to till 14th of April 2020. Our Courier Partners are closed their operation till 14th of April. We are not able to conduct any CT blood draw nor WU cases. However, requests will be accepted as usual, CT briefing will be done and to clarify the donor’s risk of infection, HHQ will be asked to the Donor.
- Transport, Import and Export: Note: - No International Couriers (Stem cell Product) are able to come to India, nor any product been able to ship to any foreign countries till 14th of April 2020.
- Restrictions in air travel to and from India from countries outside has continued to increase and we are trying to obtain more information from the responsible government authorities. Currently citizens of India are only be permitted to enter the country in cases of documented urgent need. All affected registries providing their own couriers should closely monitor travel restrictions and remain in contact with Transport Management. We will try to support transports from and to India.
- DKMS-BMST Operative Information during COVID-19. All the employees of DKMS-BMST are working from home. Main way of contact should be via email. Despite that, all our individual employees’ office land lines are forwarded to their respective mobile numbers or can contact directly to the mobile numbers.
Italy Italian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ION-1055)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/qxNcAQ
- Update March 17:
- IBMDR donations
Our National Competent authority redefined the timing of Covid-19 testing.
- Donation for patient already conditioned: even though we strongly suggest the cryopreservation of the collected product before the beginning of patient conditioning regimen, the donors will be tested before the patient starts its prep;
- Donation for patient not yet conditioned: the donors will be tested preferably within 7 days before collection, latest on the date of collection.
- In both cases, the donors are asked to stay in quarantine before collection and will be followed up after the donation in order to check any symptoms of Covid-19 infection
- Transport of HPC collected on Italian donors
- Most flights have been cancelled, so it is even more difficult to organize the transports of HPCs. As previously reported we would suggest to arrive in Rome FCO and we may assist your courier in order to have the handover of the product directly at the airport.
- Transport of peripheral blood samples to International countries
Due to the cancellation of most flights and restrictions made by International countries (EU and extra-EU), we have been informed by our shipping company, that they are facing problem in order to carry the packages on passenger or cargo flights, this may cause delay in the delivery.
- IBMDR personnel home-working
Since yesterday, the majority of IBMDR personnel is working at home. International centers can continue to contact IBMDR as usual, by phone, fax and e-mails. Questions? Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or +39 01 056 344 34-35
- IBMDR donations
Japan Marrow Donor Program (JMDP) (ION-4364)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/vRNcAQ
- Update March 26: To whom it may concern: We would like to update the Japanese current situation regarding the pandemic of COVID-19. JMDP staff is working at the offices as usual, and there are no restrictions on proceeding with every coordination stage. In effort to identify donors who may have or be at risk for contracting COVID-19, JMDP has been screening donors from the initial stage. All donors are instructed to inform us of any changes in their health status.
JMDP have updated the donor suitability criteria:
- If either question below is answered as Yes, the donor will be released:
- Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19?
- Have you been in close contact with anyone diagnosed with coronavirus infection?
- (To a donor candidate with fever; a temperature of 37.5℃ or higher and/or with respiratoryproblems), have you traveled to a high-risk country* in the last 14 days? *high-risk country : signed by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare
- Have you been in close contact with anyone who have the fever (a temperature of 37.5℃ or higher), respiratoryproblems, and traveled to a high-risk country within the last 14 days?
- Have you traveled overseas within the last 4 weeks?
- Have you been in close contact with anyone diagnosed with coronavirus infection within the last 4 weeks?
- If either question below is answered as Yes, the information will be provided to the transplant center and the transplant center will decide whether to proceed with the donor
- Has it passed over 3 months since you recovered from COVID-19?
- Have you traveled to a high-risk country within the last 3 months? (In the case of within the past 4 weeks, please refer to A-5.)
- Have you been in close contact with anyone diagnosed with coronavirus infection within the last 3 months? (In the case of within the past 4 weeks, please refer to A-6.)
- If either question below is answered as Yes, the donor will be released:
- To transplant centres abroad: JMDP will do the best to coordinate our donors for your recipients according to your request, although some difficulties exist over Covid -9 pandemic. For the transportation of HSC from Japan to your country, we announce the followings;
- In case that fresh BM or PB is requested, it will be transferred at the appropriate airport from Japanese courier to the courier from your country.
- In case that a TC plans to cryopreserve the JMDP donor PBSC and asks Japanese harvest center to cryopreserve it, AC will cryopreserve it.
- In case that a TC plans to cryopreserve the JMDP donor BM and asks Japanese collection center to cryopreserve it, it may be difficult depending on CC.
- When cryopreserved product is required, please prepare a dry shipper by yourself.
We will continue to update as the COVID-19 situation changes.
Korea Marrow Donor Program (KMDP) (WO-1058)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/iwCZDw
- Update February 27:
Since last few days we have been experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 in mainly some certain regions. On February 23, the Korean Government raised the national alert for the COVID-19 outbreak to the highest level of "serious." The four-tier alert level comprises "attention," "caution," alert" and "serious,"
Search: KMDP accepts searching request from overseas registries as usual.
CT & Workup: To clarify the risk of infection on donors, KMDP surveys the donors at CT & Workup stages. If the donors have related symptoms, history of contact with COVID-19 cases or have been exposed to the risk area, the donation process on the donors will be deferred for four (4) weeks. The transplant center will be notified once an ineligibility or deferral is determined. KMDP will temporarily suspend to collect CT samples and workup of donors in certain risk areas for safety reason.
General comment: KMDP is not able to test Coronavirus of all stem cell donors as the government performs suspected cases as the first priority around 3,000 cases per day, KMDP donors will be tested if the donor has history of risk factors and certain risk regions.
Netherlands Matchis (ION-8139)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/yRRcAQ
- Update March 19, download waiver here.
- Official statement of the registry, here.
Norway Norwegian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ION-7214)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/-xNcAQ
- Update March 23: waiver
- Update March 16:
Norwegian Authorities has, 13.3.2020, issued regulations on quarantine, etc. on arrival in Norway. It implements that a person on arrival in Norway must stay in quarantine for 14 days. Persons that do not have a residence permit in Norway will be expelled at the border. There are, however, possibilities for exceptions from the quarantine duty for persons who are strictly necessary to maintain the proper operation of critical social functions and attend to the basic needs of the population. We have been given exception from the quarantine duty for stem cell couriers transporting stem cell products. Non-Norwegian stem cell couriers will be provided with documentation that allows them to travel to our Transplant center and deliver the stem cell product. This exception can also be given for a courier transporting stem cells out of Norway, if needed (we have none exports planned for the first weeks coming). If this becomes difficult to handle we will organize hand over of stem cell products at Gardermoen airport, Oslo. Persons covered by the exception in the first and second paragraphs shall, as far as possible, avoid close contact with other persons. Documentation needed for couriers: document 1 and document 2.
Poland Poltransplant (ION-5391)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/DxRcAQ
- Update March 14: Yesterday the Polish government decided to close all air connections to Poland and all borders, since 15 of March all regular flights are cancelled. The only way to send transplant material abroad is via Germany and airport in Berlin. We are working hard on organization of transport for collections scheduled for week 16-22.03, addressing each case individually to ensure there is minimal impact to patients. Our DCs and CCs can transport the material to the border and hand on the cells to the courier from TC with the help of Polish border guards. It is not allowed to any foreign country citizen to enter Poland. Polish courier returning from abroad will have to stay in quarantine for 14 days. There is also a possibility of organizing special air transport via Okecie Airport in Warsaw. Our strong recommendation is planned cryopreservation of adult donor products so that arrival of the product can be confirmed prior to the start of patient conditioning. I trust that together we can face this difficult situation.
Portugal Cedace (ION-7358)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/FxRcAQ
- Update March 18: read here.
Russia Karelian Registry of Hematopoietic Stem Cells (ION-8256)
- Update April 3, 2020: Due to the pandemic of COVID-19, Russia has stopped all travel abroad (since March 27th) and adopted some restrictions for travel of civil individuals (since March 30th). However under certain circumstances people may leave their homes, in particular, to visit a medical office. Since the risk of donor infection with COVID-19 is quite high, some operations of the Karelian Registry cannot be performed in full scale. However, this greatly varies from one particular case to another, and we hope the restrictions will not hold for too long.
- Search: There are no restrictions, conducted as usual.
- Additional HLA typing: Additional HLA-typing is possible once the donor gives explicit consent and does not experience travel restrictions on the way to the medical office in charge for taking blood samples. In response to a particular request we will at once inform the requesting center about the possibility of typing.
- Confirmatory typing:It is possible if the following standard conditions are met. To export blood samples an agreement must be made with the requesting center. In addition we need to obtain permission from the Russian Ministry of Health. There are currently no delays with the execution of such agreements from our part. Obtaining permission to export blood samples usually takes 10-12 days. Obstacles for sending blood samples abroad may rise due to restrictions set on international flights. Once we are unable to send blood samples for CT, we will promptly notify the requesting center. With the consent of the transplant center we can have high resolution HLA-typing A-B-C-DRB1-DQB1 and IDM tests performed by an independent laboratory. During an epidemic a donor may experience travel restrictions on the way to the medical office in charge for taking blood samples. However we are ready to check the donor’s health ourselves and report the results to the requesting center. If the transplant center approves a donor without a CT additional blood samples may be sent with PBSC or BM once the transplant center requests them (volume, type, and number of samples should be specified). At the CT stage we also check the donor for the presence of COVID-19 and for contacts with infected persons. In case of positive detection the donor will be delayed for 3 months after recovery; the donor, who was in contact with a COVID-19 positive person will be delayed for 28 days.
- Workup: Work-up is possible once the donor gives consent and does not experience travel restrictions. At the WU stage we also check the donor for the presence of COVID-19 and for contacts with infected persons. In case of positive detection, the donor will be delayed for 3 months after recovery; the donor, who was in contact with a COVID-19 positive person, will be delayed for 28 days.
- Collection: Collection is possible if the donor is not limited to travel to the collection center. BM collection is possible if an operating room is available. PBSC collection is possible. However much will depend on the particular case.
- Transport of BM/PBSC: Possible for national patients.For international patients – a preliminary discussion is necessary in each case. As one of the options a cargo variant may be discussed
Important! Each donor will be tested for COVID-19 during the final cleanup phase. However there will be substantial risk of donor infection during the period of G-CSF mobilization or immediately before donation of PBSC or bone marrow. Therefore we recommend that transplant centers do not start conditioning until the collection center harvests a donor product. Once we are not sure that the donor product will be delivered to the transplant center within 72 hours, a preliminary discussion with the transplant center and the collection center on freezing the donor product immediately after collection will be necessary.
All requesting centers may continue to contact Karelian BMD Registry as usual via
fax: +7 8142 76 58 97
tel.: +7 8142 67 01 80
Singapore Bone Marrow Donor Programme (ION-3785)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/TxRcAQ
- Update February 12:
Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak in Asia, operation at BMDP continues as usual, continuing to provide our services with the following change. BMDP would not be able to accept the buccal swab for confirmatory typing (CT) in order to protect the safety of our staff and minimize the risks. BMDP will use the blood samples and have them shipped directly to the respective labs. As we adopt this, the fees for CT will change (increase) because of this logistic change.
South Africa South African Bone Marrow Registry (ION-8118)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/bRRcAQ
- Update April 2: The South African Government announced a 21-day lockdown from 27 March 2020 to 16 April 2020. No passenger flights are permitted to enter or leave the country, only occasional cargo flights are allowed. SABMR staff will be working remotely to ensure that essential patient and donor services continue.
- Extended Typing (ET) and Verification Typing / Confirmatory Typing (VT / CT) requests The SABMR will continue to accept all ET and VT/CT requests. Upon receipt, a health history screening (including questions on COVID-19 exposure) and an availability check will be performed on the selected donor and feedback provided to the requesting Transplant Centre (TC) or Registry. Arrangements for the requisite sample collection will be made once the national lockdown has been lifted. In the event that the TC or Registry indicates that the request is urgent and sufficient written motivation is provided, the selected donor will be counselled about their willingness to proceed with sample collection during the lockdown, along with a health history screening (including questions on COVID-19 exposure) and an availability check. The outcome of the donor’s counselling and screening will be communicated to the requesting TC or Registry. The SABMR remains committed to the safety of our donors and will adhere to the WMDA’s Donor Medical Suitability Recommendations.
- Medical Examination and Stem Cell Collection of donors: Such request will be dealt with on a case by case basis and will be dependent on the following:
- Donor’s health, availability and willingness to proceed under the current circumstances
- The Collection Centre’s or foreign Registry’s capacity to fulfil the request.
International donors currently in work-up: This will be dealt with on a case by case basis in collaboration with both the foreign Registry and local TC.
- Official statement can be read here.
Spain Registro de Donantes de Médula Ósea (REDMO) (ION-7813)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/fRRcAQ
- Update March 31: find link to PDF
- Update March 31: Considering always donors and patients’ safety in first place, REDMO is constantly renewing its strategies to overcome all the obstacles we are facing during this crisis. This is the reason why we would like to make an update on our current operational state:
Extended typing and confirmatory (CT) requests: We are still taking requests for extended typing in all those cases where the laboratory still has samples. If this is not the case, we won´t call in the donor and we will cancel the request. Regarding CT requests and as an alternative to their usual processing our registry is conducting a willingness and health assessment of the donors. We perform a thorough health interrogation including Covid-19 risks and ask about the availability and willingness to donate for the next 6 months. The results of this interview are being communicated via EMDIS or email depending on the registry. The donor stays reserved for your patient for 2 months. If you would like to continue with our donor, when you request a Work-up you can also request CT samples. We would appreciate it if you only start this process when our donor is your primary donor.
- Donors' availability: At workup stage REDMO is making certain that donors are willing to donate. For those cases missing the CT samples, you will be able to request them in addition to the pre-collection samples. Donors are being interrogated about any signs or risks for Covid-19. Those donors presenting any kind of symptoms or relevant risks before initiation of mobilization are being deferred for one month. If a donor presents symptoms during mobilization, the test (oropharyngeal swab) is performed as soon as they inform the CC, and donation is being cancelled in case of positive results. All other effective donors are being tested on the collection day. In every case we are informing the TC about the test results. We are still taking some Bone Marrow and unstimulated lymphoapheresis requests depending on the CC´s capacity, but we strongly encourage you to only request PBSC for the time being. Regarding the possible cellular loss through cryopreservation, our CCs are advised to consider donors’ safety first, before exceeding the standards of cellular collection even if the TCs ask for a higher than usual cellular dose. In all cases we strongly recommend NOT to start the conditioning regimen before arrival of the product and to cryopreserve it. If it were deemed necessary, some of our CCs could cryopreserve the product at origin.
- Transport: With the help of our National Health Authorities we have been able to establish a safe hand-over of the product at every major Spanish airport, so that the international couriers do not need to enter the Spanish territory. For both incoming and outgoing products couriers are asked to go straight to the custom area of the airport where they are being met by our National Civil Guard and trained staff from the patients TC or from their respective processing laboratory so that they can deliver the product, or by staff from the collection center, so that they can pick up the product. This process has been successful in every case and we will keep it for as long as it is necessary.
- Cord Blood Units: There has been no variation to our operational processes regarding CBUs.
Kindest of regards and wishing you all health and strength, Dr. Enric Carreras and Dr. Juliana Villa
Sweden Tobias Registry Sweden Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ION-5285)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/display/WMDAREG/Operational+Information+ION-5285#/
- Update March 27: The registry stays operational for all activities. Staff can work from home or will be at the office. You will always be able to reach us by e-mail using: email@example.com
- Donors is routinely asked if they have any flu-like symptoms.
- Donors are advised to follow the safety measures from the Swedish Government and health care authority. There are no travel restrictions within Sweden.
- We accept that products are cryopreserved.
- In response to the European Council’s and the European Commission’s call for travel restrictions, the Government decided on 17 March to temporarily stop non-essential travel to Sweden so as to mitigate the effects of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and reduce the spread of the disease but persons with a creditable purpose are allowed to enter. Medicine is considered a creditable purpose. The registry will provide documentation for the courier to show at the border that will allow them to travel to the Transplant Center or Collection Center. The documentation will be handled to the TC and the courier and it include a 24/7 phone number for the border police to confirm the purpose of the courier, if needed.
Switzerland Blutspende SRK Schweiz (Swiss Blood Stem Cells) (ION-9341)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/mxRcAQ
- Update March 14:
- The Swiss blood stem cell transplant activity is going on, on the patient side as well as on the donor side. However, we are also impacted by the restrictive measures that affect both courier travels and donor selection policies. We are now also working nearly complete remote, so please contact us primarily by e-mail.
- In order to prevent any risk of harm to the recipients, our medical committee strongly recommends accepting all requests by transplant centers – national and international -for cryopreservation. This will allow the transplant centers to cryopreserve the products upon receipt and to start the conditioning regimen only after safe arrival of the product. From 16.03.2020 onwards, most Swiss transplant centers will request cryopreservation of the products. We will inform you on a case-by-case basis and in due time.
- Concerning Swiss donors, we have defined specific donor selection policies, including testing, in order to minimise the risks for the donors themselves and for the recipients as far as possible.
- Border control: Switzerland has reinforced border controls according to the Schengen-principles. The entry from Italy, Germany, France and Austria is restricted. The Swiss Registry is holding an additional authorization for the import and export of blood stem cells especially for the COVID-19 situation and we will hand over this authorization for the cases where the Swiss registry is involved (national patients/donors and international donors/patients). Please find attached the document for your purposes.
- We are grateful for your collaboration in helping us to maintain our blood stem cell transplant activity. We remain at your disposal for any kind of inquiries concerning this topic (firstname.lastname@example.org / emergency calls: +41 31 380 81 01
Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center - BTCSCC (ION-3458)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/qxRcAQ
- Information in Chinese (find below the English Translation)
- Update February 14th:
During the period of the serious COVID-19 outbreak, BTCSCC maintains its stem cell donations as the usual process but follows the policies declared by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Taiwan.
To prevent the risk of non-related donors and recipients from getting an infection by COVID-19 while the Central Epidemic Command Center is still serving (before the risk of the infection is dismissed), the measures taken by BTCSCC are as follows:
- To clarify the risk of infection on donors, BTCSCC will survey the donors at CT and Work Up stages. If the donors have related symptoms, history of contact with COVID-19 cases or have been exposed to the risk area, the donation process on the donors will be deferred for 2 to 3 weeks. The transplant centre will be notified once an ineligibility or deferral is determined.
- At the donors’ work up stage, travel history of the donors will be revealed by the national health insurance system. The work up will be postponed once a related medical history, symptoms or any adverse sign on the donors’ chest imaging are observed. And the transplant centre will be notified as soon as possible.
- BTCSCC will survey the donors 14 days before the collections to determine if they are at the risk of a COVID-19 infection.
- BTCSCC will also survey the donors 14 days after the collections to determine if the donors are at the risk of COVID-19 infection and notify the transplant centre as the supportive information for clinical purposes.
- Transplant centre must report the product receipt form to BTCSCC in order to understand the status of the product and its recipient.
Thailand Thai National Stem Cell Donor Registry - TSCDR (ION-8362)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/wxRcAQ
- Update March 23: TSCDR operation during COVID-19
- Search: TSCDR accept search request from transplant centres and registries as usual without restriction.
- CT and WU requests: TSCDR has implemented COVID-19 donor eligibility criteria according to WMDA recommendation. Additional COVID-19 infection risk information have been required from donor as following, 1) risk of infection from working area such as airport staff, tour guide, airport staff, tour guide, medical staff etc. 2) risk of infection from close contact to infected person or person who come back from high risk countries 3) participate in activities with a lot of people or big communities. Donor who have above risk will be requested for temporary deferral for at least 14 days. Donor who pass medical assessment must be educated to quarantine themselves for protective COVID-19 infection before collection and must notify TSCDR if they found any symptoms related to COVID-19 infection during 14 days after collection. Some of collection centers are COVID-19 treatment centers affect decreasing collection facilities then the collection schedules may be delay.
- Transportation of blood samples: TSCDR do not find the delay of blood samples transportation with FedEx. Some donors may be requested to quarantine for 14 days that affect delay sample shipment schedule.
- Travel restrictions: TSCDR do not allow couriers from high risk or epidemic countries go to TSCDR building then couriers will be requested to pick up stem cell at other place outside Thai Red Cross Society’s area. Thai Red Cross Society do not allow TSCDR staff travel to high risk countries for pickup stem cell then Courier Services Companies will be used. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have announced on Practical Guideline for Air Operators Performing Flights into the Kingdom of Thailand on website https://www.caat.or.th/en/
Turkey - TRAN and TRIS
- Update March 20: INFORMATION TRAN and TRIS would like to inform that as of today 14/03/2020, the Turkish Ministry of Health has decided to require all returning passengers (citizens and non-citizens) from all to adhere to a 14-day quarantine from their entry into Turkey. These provisions mean that foreign couriers will not be able to enter the country. It is also very likely that the frequency of flights to and from Turkey will decrease significantly in the coming days. TRIS and TRAN working very hard with competent authorities to find suitable solutions for each transport during next week, and we are in close contact with the relevant registries. However, due to this difficult situation, we can no longer guarantee a safe arrival of the product in the coming weeks.
- Search: TRIS and TRAN accepts search request from transplant centres and registries as usual, without any restrictions.
- Confirmatory Typing: Requests will be accepted as usual, but collection of a new blood sample for confirmatory typing has become more difficult day by day. Testing of provided samples are still in progress. For foreign registries, we suggest to request for on-site CT instead of requesting for a blood sample.
- Workup Requests: We will not be able to collect any cell product during this period. We are trying to complete the scheduled ones but we will not accept any WU request in this period.
- Transport of HPC collected on international donors: Most flights have been cancelled, so it is even more difficult to organize the transports of HPCs. We would suggest to arrive in Istanbul airport and we may assist with our courier in order to have the handover of the product directly at the airport.
- As March 19 The government close the air connection with 22 countries and close 3 borders. This countries are: China, Iran, Italy, Iraq, South Korea, Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, Austria, Egypt, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Bulgaria. The closed borders are with Iraq, Iran and Georgia. In this condition we can no longer guarantee a safe arrival of any blood sample in the coming weeks.
- Postpone donation: According to the novel coronavirus – guidance of WMDA, it is recommended to postpone donation in case of donors coming from risk area, or contacting with confirmed case, or with history of COVID-19 infection.
- Please contact in case of an emergency situation:
- TRAN: email@example.com, Gamze Ceylan : firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +90 03125082374, mobile :+90 0505 966 6813, Ayfer Tarla Burucu: email@example.com Tel: +90 0312 508 2444 Mobile. +90 0533 623 73 69
- TRIS: Kibankinfo@istanbul.edu.tr Fatma Oguz MD PhD Tel: +90 212 414 20 00/ 32461 Mobile:0090 532 3737035
United Kingdom, Anthony Nolan (ION-6354)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/7RRcAQ
- Update March 18:
- Search: Anthony Nolan is accepting search requests from transplant centres and registries as usual
- VT requests: Requests will be accepted as usual, though we are facing some challenges with getting blood samples and shipment to certain countries. All donors are asked about travel history, upcoming travel and exposure to COVID-19. Donors will deferred as per guidelines.
- Workup requests: All donors are asked about travel history, upcoming travel and exposure to COVID-19. Donors will deferred as per guidelines, but donation can be considered if the transplant is urgent, there is no other donor available and the donor is well, with no symptoms. We are in the process of securing access to COVID-19 testing for at-risk donors in the UK. UK guidance to transplant centres now recommends considering cryopreservation for all collections.
- Transport: All products arriving into or leaving the UK will be routed via a handover hub at Heathrow Airport. This room allows a safe place where cells can be transferred from a UK ground courier to an international courier and vice versa. If it’s helpful for international registry partners to use this hub for handover of cells from one courier to another, please just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’re happy to support.
Anthony Nolan staff are now predominantly working from home, but there is no change to our contact information or service to international registries.
United States Be The Match-NMDP Registry (ION-3553)
- Registry operational information available on: https://share.wmda.info/x/QxVcAQ
- Update March 25: Dear Network partners, I am writing to you today astounded and in awe. I’m astounded at the resiliency that our transplant community has shown as we navigate a profound set of challenges. I’m in awe of the ways that, together, we have moved mountains to continue caring for patients despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Our organizations have done so while always keeping patient, donor and staff safety as our highest priority. The work that has been done is nothing short of amazing. Here, I want to highlight a few of the changes NMDP/Be The Match has made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, provide a reminder of some of the services that are available to support you, and reaffirm that our commitment to deliver on our mission—to save lives through cellular therapy—will not waver. You can access additional information and answers to frequently asked questions on ourResponse to COVID-19 webpage, which is continually updated.
- International response to travel restrictions: When the president announced travel restrictions between the US and the EU, we immediately began working with the U.S. government to ensure life-saving shipments could continue between countries. On March 16, 2020, NMDP/Be The Match attained a waiver signed by the CDC director regarding courier transport to the U.S. By working with partners such as DKMS, we were able to make arrangements in the EU to allow for the continued movement of product there.We have put plans in place to continue to maintain the supply of blood stem cell products from foreign donors to U.S. patients if passenger air traffic is suspended.
- Donor product cryopreservation: We cannot take the chance that even a single patient be conditioned without an unrelated donor graft available on day zero. Because of the current state of travel and concerns, we are requiring all transplant centers to plan to receive and cryopreserve unrelated donor product prior to initiation of patient conditioning. This is a temporary measure to assure patient safety is effective for all collections on or after March 30. Should your transplant center have concerns with cryopreservation capability or storage of cryopreserved products, please contact your Case Manager.
- Cord blood unit consideration: Remember that a cord blood unit (CBU) could be a consideration for your patient. CBUs are readily available for use, lack the inherent donor issues related to infection or exposure to coronavirus, and are less limited by travel restrictions. If your transplant center uses cord blood infrequently or you have questions, our Cord Blood Consultation Service is available for CBU selection and clinical support.
- Change to confirmatory typing process: The confirmatory typing (CT) process has changed to reduce the number of times a potential donor must visit a draw site prior to collection. Effective March 25, most CTs will not include blood draws for HLA testing or IDM results. Instead, when contacting donors at CT, donor centers will check donor availability and perform the health history screening questionnaire (HHSQ). The HHSQ now includes screening for COVID-19 exposure. If further HLA typing is needed, your Case Manager will work with you on next steps.
- Donor screening for coronavirus exposure: We have updated our process so we can gather information on a donor’s potential coronavirus exposure. All domestic donors are asked the same Health History Screening questions at the CT, held for workup and workup stages. The additional questions use the CDC’s risk level categorization. The NMDP/Be The Match, ASTCT and DKMS do not recommend donor testing for SARS-CoV-2 during the workup process unless there are reasons to test a donor unrelated to the workup process. In addition, starting with collections on or after March 11, 2020, we are screening all domestic donors for symptoms of the virus at 2 days, 1 week and 1 month after collection. If there is a possible COVID-19 risk that occurred within 21 days of collection, our medical team will inform your transplant center of the risk.
- Letter for donors under shelter-in-place orders: Many states are enacting shelter-in-place orders to help contain the spread of COVID-19. To ensure donors do not have issues getting to and from appointments, we have developed a letter for donors and their companions to carry with them when they need to leave home for donation-related appointments (e.g., workup activities or collection).
- Reduced fee for fully matched and haploidentical related donor workup and collection: Because it may be difficult or impossible for a related donor to travel far from home for collection during the COVID-19 outbreak, we have taken actions to assist all of our transplant center partners with overcoming barriers to fully matched and haploidentical related donor workups and collections. They include reducing the workup and collection fee for all fully matched and haploidentical related donors in the U.S. and Mexico.The weeks behind us have been challenging. So too will be the weeks ahead. But together, I know that we’ll continue to bring life-saving cellular therapies to the patients who need them most. That is our commitment to you.
- Update March 24:
As a result of the limited travel conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the confirmatory typing (CT) process is changing to reduce the number of times a potential donor must visit a draw site prior to collection. Effective Wednesday, March 25, most CTs will not include blood draws for HLA testing or IDM results. Donors whose draws have already been scheduled will be left as-is. Starting on Wednesday, we will begin following the new process. Instead, when contacting donors at CT, most donor centers will check donor availability and perform the health history screening questionnaire (HHSQ). The HHSQ includes screening for COVID-19 exposure.
Transplant centres: If you request a CT, your Case Manager will email you the results of the donor availability check and HHSQ if a full CT is unable to be completed. You will not be charged for the donor availability or health history check for these situations.If you need additional HLA testing, you can request high-resolution (HR) typing. HR typing requests will be processed and charged as normal. For an urgent patient search, contact your Case Manager to move the donor direct to workup. The NMDP (DC001) and most donor centers, as well as some international registries, such as DKMS, are using this process at CT. Your Case Manager will contact you with additional details if you have any impacted donors from these registries on your patient search.
- Donor centres: With this change, Case Managers, Search Advocates and donor center staff will remain in close contact to maintain a line of sight to the transplant center’s needs. Some domestic and some international donor centers/registries may be able to respond to a request for CT as usual; however, given current circumstances, typically a blood draw will not be able to be completed. Instead, the donor center will check for donor availability, complete the HHSQ with the donor, and communicate updates to the Case Manager. Available donors may be requested for HR, Held for Workup, or Workup (with no additional HHSQ needed if the next request is made within 12 weeks). A buccal swab will be completed at HR if necessary.
- Update March 23: At this time, we simply cannot take the chance that even a single patient be conditioned without an unrelated donor graft available on day zero. We have no choice but to now require TCs plan to receive and cryopreserve the unrelated donor product prior to initiation of conditioning. Since we cannot anticipate every possible scenario, this requirement will allow for very limited exceptions. Such exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis, following discussion between your medical team and the NMDP medical staff. Your case manager can describe this process in more detail. The requirement for cryopreservation is effective for all collections on or after March 30, 2020 and is a temporary measure to assure patient safety and will be continuously re-evaluated. As conditions improve, we will lift this requirement and return back to a more normal state. We appreciate everything you are doing to take great care of your BMT patients in these challenging times. We value your continued partnership and hope you understand this difficult decision was made with the best interests of your patients in mind.
- Update March 16: I am pleased to share positive news regarding courier transport of product from level 3 countries to the U.S.
- Today, NMDP/Be The Match attained a waiver signed by the CDC Director. This waiver directs U.S. Government agencies to allow couriers from CDC level 3 countries, such as countries in Europe, to transport hand-carried products into the U.S. Currently, there are no restrictions on couriers departing the U.S. with or without products. However, at this time, NMDP/Be The Match cannot facilitate the entry of couriers intending to export products other than couriers from OnTime and TimeMatters. Only NMDP/Be The Match, OnTime and TimeMatters couriers can import to the U.S.You can download the waiverhere.
- Cryopreservation of unrelated adult donor products highly recommended: As concern regarding COVID-19 escalates, we continue to monitor the situation very closely. We would like to reiterate the recommendation that you plan for cryopreservation of all unrelated adult donor products whenever possible. As individual countries continue to implement travel restrictions, our goal is to prevent any situations where a patient, who has already begun their preparative regimen, may be at risk.
- In an abundance of caution, and given the ever-changing situation, NMDP/Be The Match requires that a backup plan exist for all cases where cryopreservation is not being planned. The NMDP/Be The Match HLA Search Strategy team will review patient cases and provide a comparable backup option when possible via your case manager. A backup plan could be another unrelated donor, cord blood unit(s), related donor or haploidentical donor. If your center already has a backup plan in place, please let your Case Manager know.
- Update March 11: Reminder that our COVID-19 webpage on the Network.BeTheMatchClinical.org site will continue to be updated to provide a central location for all information pertaining to the NMDP/Be The Match’s response to COVID-19. Please use this website for access to FAQ documents for transplant center programs, donors, patients, etc. If you have additional questions that are not addressed at this website please contact your Case Manager for patient case specific activity or message COVID19@nmdp.org for other questions.
- Logistics Update: In order to mitigate risk at local apheresis/collection centers and transplant centers, the NMDP/Be The Match will be implementing the following changes to ensure proper screening of product couriers.
- If the collection for a U.S. patient occurs on or after March 18, 2020, the NMDP/Be The Match will require our internal logistics department to manage or provide the transport of the product. The only exception will be for DKMS imports transported by the OnTime or TimeMatters courier companies. All U.S. domestic transports will be provided by the NMDP/Be The Match.
- If the collection for an international patient occurs on or after March 18, 2020, the NMDP/Be The Match will require our internal logistics department manage or provide the courier unless the courier is provided through the OnTime or TimeMatters courier companies.
- These requirements will be in place for the foreseeable future to ensure the safety of our healthcare partners while still delivering products for patients.
- Logistics Update: In order to mitigate risk at local apheresis/collection centers and transplant centers, the NMDP/Be The Match will be implementing the following changes to ensure proper screening of product couriers.
United States Gift of Life Registry (ION-1033)
Update 27 March: Gift of Life has made the following procedural changes and enhancements in light of COVID-19:
- All Confirmatory Typing requests will not have a blood sample drawn for CT and IDM testing as routinely performed. Cooperative Registries will be notified of the donor availability and health history screening outcomes. In the event a transplant center wants a CT performed, we are happy to oblige by sending the donor a buccal swab kit and having it typed at a laboratory different than the original typing laboratory. The sample can be run STAT. Please notify email@example.com if you have a special request.
- Gift of Life is asking all transplant centers not to condition patients until after the product is received. This will require transplant centers to cryopreserve the product on receipt. In the event a transplant center is unable to cryopreserve, Gift of Life can arrange for this to be done for donors collected at the Gift of Life – Be The Match Collection Center (please check with your Gift of Life coordinator upon submission of the workup request, and we will do our best to have the donor collected at our facility). Gift of Life will then arrange for the product to be shipped in a dry shipper to the destination transplant center.
We are especially grateful to our colleagues at Ontime Onboard Courier GmbH - especially Thilo Buerklin - for making courier transport miracles happen! Thank you to the entire registry and transplant community – and to the WMDA office – our global community is coming together to beat this crisis and help the patients who count on us all.