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About Bone Marrow Donation

Tissue Typing
Testing of a potential donor involves a simple blood test. A very small amount of blood is taken from the arm. Your sample is analyzed by a certified laboratory and the result is entered into the public registry database or if you are tested privately for a friend or family member, the result is distributed as you request.

The information is strictly confidential. The database of public registries can be searched by transplant center coordinators and registry search coordinating units worldwide. This is performed on behalf of patients everywhere in need of suitably matched marrow donors.

If your Human Leukocyte Antigen Tissue Type (which equates to your genetic human fingerprint) matches that of a patient, the registry’s regional donor center will contact you and ask if you are willing to proceed with additional blood tests. If you are indeed a match, you will be counseled on the process involved in donating stem cells by a center coordinator. If you are tested privately and are a match, you most likely will hear from the patient’s physician.

Marrow Donation
When you donate marrow, it is removed with a surgical needle from the back of your pelvic bone. All marrow donors are given either general or regional anesthesia. Usually, four to eight tiny incisions are made in the pelvic area. These incisions are so small that stitches are not necessary. The procedure lasts between 45 and 90 minutes. Marrow is constantly regenerating itself and is replaced within several weeks.

For a donation of peripheral blood stem cells, the donor receives one injection of Filgrastim each day for four to five days. Filgrastim is a drug that increases the number of stem cells released from the bone marrow into the blood stream. The stem cells are collected from the blood stream through a process called apheresis. During apheresis, which is done at a blood center or a hospital, your blood is removed through a sterile needle placed in a vein in one arm and passed through an apheresis machine that separates out the stem cells. The remaining blood, minus the stem cells, is returned through a sterile needle placed in a vein in the other arm.

We also invite you to learn more about what it means to be a donor at, the National Marrow Donor Program's official Web site.



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