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FAQ – Donating Bone Marrow

Frequently Asked Questions about being a Donor

How can you help?

Register to be a donor!  When you register to be a donor you join the 17 Million others who have already registered and opted to donate to someone in need.  You can save a life. It is said that Whoever saves one life, it is written as if he has saved all humanity!

What does that mean?

It means that you fill out a form consenting to be a donor in the event that you match with someone who has any of these types of blood cancers.  After you fill out this form you will take a Q Tip – rub it on the side of your mouth against your cheek for 10 seconds. They give you a total of 4 q tips, you do it 2 times on each side.  That’s it!  They will then call you in a week or 2 to confirm if you are still interested in being a donor.  Many people register for a friend or an individual and join the registry. They end up matching with someone else and then decline to help out.  That can be devastating for someone who has only one match in the entire database.  So they want to make sure that you are donating for the right reasons.

What happens if you match?

If you match with Zaki or anyone really. You will be contacted by the Hospital. They will ask you if you still want to donate. If you agree, they will ask you to come in and do an additional test to see if you are a good match.

What does donation entail?

In 80% of the cases you are donating blood.   You will be given a medication. This medication will super charge your bone marrow in your blood.  You donate blood, and it will take 5-6 hours.

Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation is one of two methods of collecting blood-forming cells for bone marrow transplants. The same blood-forming cells that are found in bone marrow are also found in the circulating (peripheral) blood.

PBSC donation is a nonsurgical procedure, called apheresis. The donation takes place at an experienced blood center or outpatient hospital facility that participates in PBSC collections for Be The Match®.

Jeff, PBSC donor

For 5 days leading up to your PBSC donation, you will be given injections of a drug called filgrastim to increase the number of blood-forming cells (also called blood stem cells) in your bloodstream.

On the day of your PBSC donation, your blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that will collect only the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to you through a needle in the other arm. This process is similar to what is used when donating blood platelets.

90% of all PBSC donations are completed in 1 apheresis session, which may take up to 8 hours. The remaining 10% of the donations are completed in 2 apheresis sessions, which will take 4 to 6 hours each.

In 20% of the cases, a needle is stuck into your hip area and a small amount of bone marrow is extracted.

In both cases your side affects will just be tiredness or soreness.

Will I run out of marrow?

A: Because your marrow and blood stem cells completely regenerate, you can technically donate several times in your life. … Your marrow takes approximately 4-6 weeks to completely regenerate itself and your blood stem cells after PBSC will normalize within 1-2 days after the donation.

What are the odds of matching?

A: The odds of a siblings having identical tissue types are 1 in 4. The odds of matching an unrelated donor are between 1 in 100 and 1 in a million. Currently, only 25% of the National Registry represent the racial minority communities; therefore, the current odds for a minority patient to find a matching unrelated donor may be more close to 1 in a million. This is the reason for the current funding programs geared specifically to drastically increase the number of donors representing the ethnic minority communities.