Marrow Donation FAQ's
Question: I've heard giving bone marrow is really painful. Is this true?
Answer: No, in most cases donors feel very little or almost no discomfort at all.
Question: I've heard they take the marrow directly from your spine. Is this true?
Answer: No, marrow is never taken from the spine. When a donation is made directly from a bone it is always the back of the hip (aka pelvic) bone that is used and is always done under anesthesia so the donor feels no pain during the donation process. After the anesthesia wears off most donors report feeling slightly bruised along the back of their hip bone for a few days. Some take over the counter pain relievers like Tylenol while others require no pain medication at all. In a small percentage of donors some nerve damage may occur but this is rare.
Question: What is bone marrow and how is different from stem cells?
Answer: Bone marrow is the spongy tissue located in the center of your bones. The marrow contains the stem cells from which all other specialized cells in your body are formed. The stem cells in your bone marrow are what create the new blood cells your body needs to function. When speaking in terms of donations the words are used to differentiate between the way the cells are collected:
Question: Can you be a marrow match for someone who has a different blood type then your own?
Answer: Yes you can be a match. You don't have to have matching blood types to be a marrow match. Marrow is matched by the compatibility of inherited genetic markers, specifically 6 antigens known as your HLA Markers. These markers, not blood type, are what is relevant in finding a marrow match.
Question: I live in a different country than Cristina but want to help her. What happens if I am her match?
Answer: If you live in a country with a cooperative registry, your bone marrow or stem cells can be flown to Canada to help Cristina.
Question: How much does it cost to join the registry?
Answer: In all three countries, Canada, The United States and Italy the cost to register is free.
Question: Do I have to give blood to join the registry?
Answer: In Canada and the United States you do not have to give blood. Samples are collected using cotton swabs that are gently rubbed on the inside of your mouth along the cheeks.