Blood and Bone Marrow Donation

1 What is a Blood and Bone Marrow Donation?

If you have plans to donate blood and bone marrow, you have agreed to allow doctors to draw blood stem cells from your blood or bone marrow for transplantation.

Blood stem cells are cells that make all the body's blood cells. They form and mature in the bone marrow and later released into the bloodstream.

Although the are called "stem cells" they are not related to the embryonic stem cells that are studied in therapeutic cloning and other types of research.

In the past, surgery to draw marrow from the bone was the only way to collect blood stem cells. Today, however, it is more common to collect blood stem cells directly from the blood.

This is called peripheral blood stem (PBSC) donation. Blood stem cells can also be collected from  the umbilical cord blood at birth.

However, only a small amount of blood can be retrieved from the umbilical cord, so this kind of transplant is reserved for children and small adults.

2 Reasons for Procedure

A patient will need to undergo a blood and bone marrow donation for the following reasons:

Every year, more than 10,000 people in the U.S. for example, are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia or lymphoma, for for the best solution is a stem cell transplant.

Donated blood stem cells are required for these transplantations. You might be considering donating blood or bone marrow because someone in your family needs a stem cell transplant and doctors think you can be compatible with that individual.

Or perhaps you want to help another person, maybe even a stranger who is waiting for a stem cell transplant.

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3 Potential Risks

Bone marrow donation. The most serious risk related to bone marrow donation involves the use and effects of anaesthesia during surgery.

You might feel tired and weak after surgery and have problems walking for a few days. The area in which the bone marrow was taken might feel sore for a few days.

You can take pain relievers for the pain. It might take a few weeks to make a full recovery, but you can be able to go back to your normal routine after a few days.

Peripheral blood stems cell donation. This risks of this type of stem cell donation are quite minimal.

Prior to the donation. You will be injected with medicine that increases the number of stem cells in your blood.

Side effects of this medicine can include bone pain, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. These usually disappear after a couple of days after you stop taking the injections.

You can also take or be prescribed pain medicine by your doctor. For the donation, you will have a catheter placed in a vein in your arm.

If the veins in your arm are too small or have thin walls you may need to have the catheter put into a larger one in your chest, neck or groin.

This rarely causes side effects, complications that occur include air trapped between your lungs and your chest wall (pneumothorax), bleeding and infection.

During the donation, you might feel lightheaded or have chills, numbness or tingly around the mouth and cramp in your hands. The go away after the donation.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

If you have the desire to donate stem cells, in order to prepare for the procedure you can talk to your doctor or contact the National Bone Marrow Donor Program, this is a federally funded nonprofit organization that keeps a database of volunteers who are willing to donate.

If you decide to donate, the process and possible risks of donating will be clearly explained to you. You will then be asked to sign a consent form.

After you agree to be a donor, you will have a test called human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing. HLAs are [reteins that are found in most cells in your body.

These tests help in the matching up of donors and recipients. A close match increases the chances that the transplant will be successful.

If you sign up with donor registry, you may or may not be matched up with someone who needs a blood stem cell transplant.

However, if HLA typing shows that you are a match, you will undergo additional tests to make sure that you do not have any genetic or infectious diseases that can b passed to the transplant recipient.

You doctor will ask about your health and family history to make sure that donation will be safe for you.

A donor registry may also ask you to make a financial contribution to cover the cost of screening and adding you to the registry, but this is usually voluntary.

If you are identified as a match for an individual who needs a transplant, the cost related to collecting stem cells for donation will be paid by that person or by his or her health insurance.

5 What to Expect

Read on to learn more about what to expect before, during, and after your blood and bone marrow donation.

Bone marrow donation. Collecting bone marrow is a type of surgery and is carried out in an operating room. You will be given anaesthesia for the procedure.

Needles will be inserted through the skin into the bone to draw bone marrow. This process generally takes one to two hours. After bone marrow is collected, you will be taken to the recovery room while the anaesthesia wears off.

You may be then taken to a hospital room where  the nursing staff can monitor you. When you are fully alert and able to eat and drink, you will be released from the hospital.

Peripheral blood stems cell donation. If blood stem cells are going to be collected from your blood, you will be given injections of a medicine that stimulates the production of blood stem cells so that more are circulating in your bloodstream.

The medication is usually started the several days before you are going to donate. During donation, blood is taken out through a catheter in a vein in your arm.

The blood is ten sent to a machine that takes out the stem cells. The rest of the blood is then returned to you through a vein in your arm. This process is known as apheresis.

It normally takes two to six hours and is done as an outpatient procedure. You will typically undergo two apheresis sessions, depending on how may blood stem cells are needed.

After the procedure. Recovery times vary depending on the individual and the type of donation. But most blood stem cell donors are able to return to their usual activities within a few days to a week after donation.

6 Procedure Results

The results of a blood and bone marrow donation will be given by your doctor.

Bone marrow or blood stem cells are taken and await possible transplantation.

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