How Marrow Donations are Given
1. PBSC (Peripheral Blood Stem Cell)
Over 80% of the time donors are asked to give stem cells through their blood using a non-surgical method called PBSC. To increase the number of blood-forming cells in the bloodstream, donors receive daily injections of a drug called filgrastim for five days before the collection.
Scott giving his stem cell donation by PBSC. Read his story HERE
While lying in bed with your arms at your sides your blood is then removed through a sterile needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. This process is similar to donating plasma. The remaining blood is returned to you. It will probably take at least two harvesting sessions, with each lasting several hours to harvest the required number of stem cells. You can even watch tv or a movie while the harvest takes place.
Discomfort is usually minimal if there is any at all. Some patients feel a feverish sensation or nausea while giving their stem cells. When this happens the aphaeresis machine is usually turned off until they feel better then the process resumes. Some donors report feeling soreness in their bones while taking the filigstrm to prepare for their donation. In most cases the side effects wear off as soon as the donation has been completed or within a day or two after.
Over 80% of bone marrow donations are now given through
a blood donation process called PBSC. This is a simplified
illustration that shows how it works.
2. Marrow Collected from the Back of the Hip Bones
Less than 30% of the time, you are asked to give stem cells through your bone marrow. The majority of bone marrow donations are for children as they experience a higher success rate from marrow rather then PBSC.
Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure. While you receive anesthesia, doctors use special, hollow needles to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of your pelvic bones. Many donors receive a transfusion of their own previously donated blood.
Discomfort is usually minimal but sometimes severe. It typically only lasts a few days to weeks and is most often described as soreness similar to a bruise. Some donors also experience fatigue.