How are stem cells donated
PERIPHERAL BLOOD STEM CELL COLLECTION
This is the most likely method of collecting your stem cells. Blood stem cells are found in the bone marrow and also in the circulating blood stream (peripheral blood) but in smaller numbers. A growth factor known as granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) occurs naturally in the body and regulates the production of granuloycytes and stem cells. Neupogen, which is a man-made form of G-CSF, is injected daily for five days prior to the collection. This temporarily boosts granulocyte production and encourages movement of the stem cells from the bone marrow where the cells are made, out into the peripheral (circulating) blood.
The stem cells can be collected from the peripheral blood by an apheresis machine, also called a cell separator. This procedure, which can be uncomfortable, entails you being connected to the machine by an intravenous line (similar to donating platelets). Your blood is circulated through the apheresis machine, which removes the stem cells from your blood. The cells that are not required are returned to your circulation. Peripheral Blood Stem Cells are equally efficient and comparable to bone marrow for the recipient and are considered to be much less trouble for the donor.
One or two collections on consecutive days, each lasting 4-6 hours, may be required. Overnight hospitalisation is not usually necessary except when a central venous catheter (an intravenous line placed into a vein in your groin [femoral vein]) has been used to enable easy access to your blood circulation or when a two day collection is performed. A general anaesthetic is not required for the procedure either. The effects of G-CSF may include headache, bone pain and flu-like symptoms during the 5-day period the drug is being administered, but these symptoms usually recede 1-2 days after the last dose of the drug.
During the collection procedure, the donor may experience discomfort at the sites of the needle insertion and a temporary tingling sensation in the body from the anticoagulant used to keep the cells from clotting. No extended recuperation period is usually necessary, although you may feel tired for a few days afterwards.
NOTE: There are no costs involved for you, the donor. Reimbursement of reasonable costs incurred by the donor is possible. The SABMR covers the costs of further testing as well as harvesting of the stem cells
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE STEM CELL DONORS
When donors are identified as being a match for a particular patient and agree to donate peripheral blood stem cells, they will be given injections of Neupogen, a synthetically prepared form of naturally occurring granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF). It is given in order to mobilize the stem cells out of the bone marrow and into the circulating blood, where they can be collected for a patient needing a transplant.
Normal individuals are at risk for developing cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma or other blood diseases throughout their life time. G-CSF stimulates normal blood cell growth. In some patients with cancer or abnormal blood cells, it has been shown to stimulate leukemic blood cells.
However, studies following large numbers of unrelated donors have shown that the risk of developing cancer within several years after the use of G-CSF is not increased compared to donors not receiving G-CSF. To read the full version of the G-CSF statement issued by the World Marrow Donor Association, please click here.