Stem Cell Donation – How It Works?

The parent cells through which development of other cells take place are known as stem cells. These can be said as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Factory producing blood cells, bone marrow is among the soft tissues inside the bones like the hip bones and breast bones. These cells are generally discovered inside the bone marrow, peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood in newborns.


About the process

Almost 90% of all donations for PBSC get completed in a single session of apheresis, which typically takes around 8 hours. The 10% remaining donations get completed in a total of 2 sessions of apheresis that takes around 4 to 6 hours.


Chances are that you might experience headaches and bone muscle aches, for a few days before you’re into PBSC donation. For the 5 days that leads to PBSC donation, patients are provided with drug injections known as filgrastim for increasing count of cells that form blood inside the bloodstream.


While the recovery times would vary depending on individual, most donors of PBSC can report total recovery at around 7 to 10 donation days.


Recovery post PBSC donation – 22% of donors can fully recover after 2 days of donation, around 53% of donors can totally recover 7 days post donation, 93% of donors can recover fully after 180 days of donation, >99% of donors can recover entirely after years donation. The median time for recovering PBSC donation is for a week.


How to collect stem cells

 3 main sources are there for collecting stem cells:

  • Bone marrow
  • Umbilical cord blood
  • Peripheral stem cells


All methods of collection can be explained:


Collecting stem cells for bone marrow

 The process can often gets called harvest for bone marrow. This can be done inside operating room, while donor remains under influence of general anesthesia. Doctors take marrow cells from back of bone pelvic (hip). Donor lies with downward face and one large needle is put through skin in hip bone’s backside.


After pushing it to center, the needle pulls out thick marrow.


Peripheral blood cells


For a lot of days before beginning with donation process, the donor is provided with daily shot of figrastim injection. The growth factor drug causes bone marrow to release different stem cells in blood.


A post shot, blood gets removed through catheter that’s put in large arm vein. This is cycled through machine separating stem cells from other cells.


Umbilical cord blood collection


The left placenta and umbilical and placenta cord after baby gets born is cord blood. The collection doesn’t pose any risk or complication for infant. After clamping and cutting umbilical cord, the umbilical and placenta cord get cleaned. The cord blood gets put in sterile container and is mixed with preservative and frozen until this is required.


The stem cell donation procedure of PBSC doesn’t require any surgery. The process takes place at outpatient medical facility and experienced blood center that can participate in PBSC collection for the match.


On PBSC day donation, the blood gets removed through needle in an arm and gets passed through machine that helps in collection of blood forming cells. The remaining blood gets returned through needle inside other arm. The process can be similar to what you use while you donate blood platelets.


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