Being a BMT donor is one of the most generous things a person can do. By providing marrow or blood, you are offering the BMT patient the potential for a new lease on life.
While it can be scary, knowing exactly what to expect can ease any fear.
There are two ways we can collect your cells for donation. The most common method is called apheresis. This is very similar to donating plasma or platelets. Should you undergo apheresis, you will be given a shot daily for several days. This shot stimulates your bone marrow to release the needed cells into your blood. After four or five days of injections, we can collect your cells through either a needle in your arm or an intravenous line inserted in a vein above your collar bone. The machine separates out the needed cells and returns the rest of your blood to you. The procedure takes all day, and it may take one to three days to collect enough cells. This is an outpatient procedure; you can go home each day after the collection.
The National Bone Marrow registry offers this video to show you exactly how donation by apheresis is done.
The second method is to take the cells directly from your bone marrow. This is a surgical procedure done at the hospital with anesthesia. Doctors use a needle to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of your pelvic bone. The most serious risk associated with donating bone marrow involves the use of anesthesia during the procedure. Following the procedure, you may be sore and fatigued for several days. You usually are able to go home at the end of the day.
The National Bone Marrow registry offers this video to show you exactly how the surgical donation is done.
Recovery times vary depending on the individual and type of donation. Most donors are able to return to work and other activities within one to seven days after donation. The majority of donors feel completely recovered within two to three weeks. Your blood-forming cells are back to their normal levels within four to six weeks.
Marrow and PBSC donation require about the same total time commitment. On average, the entire process typically takes 30 to 40 hours spread out over a four- to six-week period. However, the satisfaction you get from knowing that you played an essential role in a lifesaving procedure is something you can be proud of forever.
- National Marrow Donor Program
- (by calling) 1-800-marrow2