Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Testing

What is HLA testing?

Human leukocyte antigen testing, also called HLA testing, is a test to determine if a person is able to donate stem cells to someone who needs them for treatment.

HLA is the genetic makeup you inherit from your parents. The first step in finding out if you can donate stem cells to someone is to determine if you are a suitable HLA match with that person.

To determine your HLA type, we need to test a sample of your blood. We then compare your test results to HLA type of the person who needs the cells to see if you match. This can take up to 10 business days to complete. If the potential donor is a sibling of the person who needs the cells, there is a 25% chance that two siblings will match.

It is important to note, when you agree to have your blood tested, you are also agreeing to have the results shared with the person who needs the cells and that person’s medical team at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Your HLA results will become part of the medical record of the person who needs the cells.

Can I refuse to be tested?

Yes, you can refuse to be HLA tested. 

Who pays for the HLA testing and collection?

The cost of the HLA testing and collection of stem cells is covered by the insurance of the person who needs the cells. If you decide to have the HLA test done at a location other than CHOP, that site may charge a small fee. This fee is not reimbursable.

What happens next if I am a match?

If you are a suitable HLA match, the next step is to find out if the donation process is safe for you. Our coordinator will help to make an appointment with our donor nurse practitioner. The nurse practitioner and a transplant doctor will perform the evaluation. They will ask you about your medical history, perform a physical examination and order more blood tests. If it is safe for you to donate, you will be given detailed information about the donation and collection process.

If you are willing to donate, you will need to sign a consent form.

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