What donating involves
Every day, our Search Team spend hours searching our register. They are looking for matches for patients in desperate need of a donation of stem cells. One day you might be that match.
If this happens we’ll get in touch to ask you to give more blood samples to be sure that this is the case. If you are a match then get ready – you’re about to do something amazing and potentially save a life. Thousands of people on our register have gone on to become donors, offering hope and life to patients throughout the world.
Before you donate you’ll be given a medical examination to ensure you’re fit enough to proceed. We’ll take further blood samples to assess your health and make sure no infection could be passed from you to the patient.
All stem cell donations take place at a specialist centre in London, and we make all the arrangements for you. You’ll have a choice of two methods although you should be willing to donate using either.
Peripheral blood stem cell collection – donating through a vein in your arm
A nurse will come to your home or office to give you injections over three days. These injections help your body produce and release stem cells into your blood. You’ll then come to a hospital in London to make the donation but you won’t need an overnight hospital stay or a general anaesthetic. Your blood is taken through a
tiny tube in your arm, and the cells are donated by passing the blood through a machine. Side effects can include flu-like symptoms and aching but they’re usually mild and last just a couple of days.
Bone marrow donation – donating stem cells taken from bone marrow in the pelvis
You’ll come to a hospital in London where you’ll spend two nights. You’ll be given a general anaesthetic and doctors will take some of your bone marrow from your pelvis using a needle and syringe. You’ll probably
experience tiredness and a little bruising afterwards but this generally passes after about a week.
How will you feel afterwards?
Our donors often tell us that the side effects last a few days, but the pride at having helped save a life stays with them forever. We will reimburse all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses including paying for and arranging all travel and accommodation requirements.
What happens to the stem cells once they’ve been donated?
It’s crucial we get your stem cells to the patient as soon as possible. Taken by personal courier to the patient’s transplant centre, your healthy donor marrow or stem cells are introduced into the patient’s bloodstream in a similar way to a transfusion. If the new bone marrow takes or ‘engrafts’ well, the patient begins producing normal healthy blood cells and has a chance at recovery.
Can I find out what’s happened to the patient?
Following the donation, you can receive updates on your patient’s progress. After a two year confidentiality period, and subject to a request from the patient, some donors and patients meet. This tends to be rare so for some of you, the knowledge that you’ve helped saved someone’s life will be reward enough.
Join our register now and help us double the number of lives we save.