Bone Marrow Donors

August 19, 2008 by  
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I received an interesting (well to me it was) email from my local blood donation center..nudging me to schedule my eight week donation and adding this information:

Did you know that there is another way you can save lives? Each year thousands of people are diagnosed with diseases like leukemia and lymphoma for which a stem cell or marrow transplant could be the only cure. About 70 percent of these people are unable to find a donor match within their family and must search for an unrelated donor on the National Marrow Donor Program Registry.

Why the need for stem cells or marrow?

Stem cells are destroyed by chemo or radiation. Stem cells are considered the foundation of blood formation. Stem cells become white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.

For more information on this see the Battling Cancer Archives on neutropenia.

From the National Marrow Donor Program:

The basics:

“Race and ethnicity matter in tissue matches”

Your heritage can make all the difference. If you are from one of the following communities, you are urgently needed as a bone marrow donor or cord blood donor:

  • Black and African American
  • American Indian and Alaska Native
  • Asian
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic and Latino
  • Multiple race

Did you know there are three types of donations?

  • Bone Marrow Donation-done outpatient involving a surgical procedure
  • Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation-involves filtering peripheral blood
  • Umbilical Cord Donation-these stem cell rich cells can be used or stored

The single most common method of stem cell donation (also called marrow donation) is through apheresis. Blood is removed from your body like in a blood donation. It is spun through a machine removing the stems cells and then it is returned to your body in the other arm.

More information on peripheral blood stem cell donation from the Mayo Clinic.

“Before you can donate your bone marrow, doctors give you injections of a medication to draw the blood stem cells out from your bone marrow and into your bloodstream. That way they can be easily filtered from your blood.

The medication, filgrastim (Neupogen), is typically given as an injection once a day for four or five days before your bone marrow stem cell donation. Doctors will monitor your blood counts to see how your body is reacting to the filgrastim. They’ll also be looking to see if you have an optimal number of stem cells circulating in your blood.”

Here’s interesting information regarding umbilical cord stem cell donation: umbilical cord blood can be donated to a blood bank, saved for private use or donated for research. Check out more information on this, and medical/ethical position statements on cord donation at the National Marrow Donor Program site.

This is just a primer on the topic.

Think about it and then think about donating a valuable resource, stem cells.


Bone Marrow Donors WorldWide— “Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW) is the continuing effort to collect the HLA phenotypes of volunteer stem cell donors and cord blood units, and is responsible for the co-ordination of their worldwide distribution. Participants are 59 stem cell donor registries from 43 countries, and 40 cord blood banks from 25 countries. ”

The American Cancer Society: Bone Marrow or Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation (SCT)

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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