1) What difference would a bone marrow/ stem cell donation make to a recipient?
If the recipient’s body accepts your donated stem cells they will start making healthy blood cells again. This could save their life! In 9 out of 10 cases making the donation is very simple – similar to giving blood.
2) Does my blood type have to match?
No, the test is tissue typing and your blood type has no relevance. Your sample will be tested to identify your HLA typing. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing is used to match you with a donor for your bone marrow. This is not the same as ABO blood typing. HLA is a protein – or marker – found on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses HLA markers to know which cells belong in your body and which do not.
3) If I am a match, what is the donation process?
You will be contacted by the registry. You will be asked to have a blood test taken which is sent off to confirm you are a match. If you are happy to proceed you will be invited for a ‘donor assessment’ and medical screening to make sure you are fit and well enough to donate. Your medical confidentiality will be carefully protected at all times. At your appointment you’ll meet the team, and find out more about donating – this appointment is just for you – and no-one else will be told. This helps to protect your privacy and gives you space to talk about any concerns you might have and ask questions about the two main approaches – stem cell donation from a) blood and b) bone marrow. There are certain medical facilities that provide this service. About a week later you’ll be contacted with news that you can proceed and it is at this stage that logistical arrangements are made for the procedure.
4) How are donations made?
Stem cells that are suitable for transplant are mainly donated through two different methods: an adult donor’s blood (roughly 9 out of 10 cases) or an adult donor’s bone marrow (roughly 1 out of 10 cases). To learn more about the proceess, watch this short Youtube video.
5) Will I have to travel to another country to make the donation?
No, the stem cells can survive for up to 72 hours outside the body so logistical arrangements are put in place to get your donated cells to the recipient in time.
7) Is it harmful to my health to donate blood stem cells?
No it is not harmful to your health. If there was any real concern about your health you would not be allowed to make a donation. Your body replaces the donated stem cells quickly without you even noticing, they will be completely replenished within 21 days. Based on available data from healthy people who have taken the stem cell boosting injections (G-CSF), no long-term risks have been identified.
6) If I am a donor, what is my time commitment?
If you are donating stem cells extracted from your blood you will have a medical check to ensure you are healthy enough to donate. You will then need to take injections once or twice a day for up to five days to increase the stem cell production. Sometimes a nurse will need to give the injections and sometimes you will be shown how to do this yourself. Some service providers will send a nurse to your office or home to do this. On the fourth or fifth day you will need to spend approximately 4 or 5 hours linked to a machine which draws off your blood, extracts stem cells and returns your blood back. In some cases you may have to return the next day if sufficient stem cells have not been collected. You may want to take it easy for a few days after the procedure.
8) Who will know what my HLA typing is and is there guarantee of confidentiality?
The organisation where you register will have the information on your HLA markers. This information is confidential and is managed by a worldwide registry. This information is not used for any other purpose than to find matches for bone marrow/ stem cell donation for people suffering from leukaemia and aplastic anaemia as well as other diseases of the immune system.
Frequently Asked Questions
9) More infomation about Leukemia
The short presentation below was created to help you undestand more about Leukemia, and its treatment.