You've done something amazing by donating to your relative
We've put together this guide to explain what happens next.
In an emergency
If you need to contact someone urgently after leaving the collection centre, please call the emergency contact on 07710 599 161.
Read on to discover:
- What happens next - your questions answered
- Taking care of yourself after donation
- Your journey - what the road ahead looks like and how we can help
- Sharing your experience - how you can help spread the word
What happens next?
How will I feel over the next few days?
No two people are the same after donating. Some may feel tired, while others ache. Some may have
no side effects at all. See our advice for taking care of yourself after donation.
Will my relative need me to donate again?
Possibly – you may need to if their disease doesn’t fully go away or if it comes back and they unfortunately
relapse. A second donation request is most likely to be needed within the first year after your donation.
- In about 5% of cases, a second stem cell donation is needed.
- In about 15% of cases, a top-up of while blood cells (lymphocytes) may be needed after your first donation.
When can I donate blood again?
These rules are set by the NHSBT, so please do speak to them before donating blood.
You can give blood 3 months after a lymphocyte donation, 6 months after a stem cell donation, and 12 months after a bone marrow donation.
Taking care of yourself
Please follow any advice given to you by the hospital staff. The main thing is to rest and take it easy.
If you've donated stem cells (PBSC)
Many people feel totally fine after donating stem cells, but one or more of the following symptoms are also common:
Low platelet levels post-donation may cause you to bruise more easily, but don’t worry, your platelets will return to normal within a couple of days.
Rest and avoid strenuous activity for 48 hours after you’ve donated.
Mild flu-like symptoms (headaches, muscle aches, and bone pain)
Take pain-relief medication like paracetamol. Don’t take ibuprofen or anything that contains aspirin for 2-3 days post-donation – it stops your blood clotting properly, which can be dangerous after you’ve donated.
If you've donated bone marrow
The side effects of donating bone marrow vary from donor to donor. The important thing is to listen to your body and rest when you need to. Here are some of the most common side effects and what you can do to relieve them:
Disturbed sleep patterns, and loss of appetite
Eat small, well-balanced snacks or light meals. Again, take it easy and get early nights to help you return to your regular sleeping pattern.
This is quite common. Spend plenty of time resting and the tiredness will pass.
Take it easy in general. Be careful and go slowly when you stand up first thing in the morning.
Feeling tearful, irritable, or experiencing a sense of anti-climax after donation
These feelings are quite common after general anaesthetic and will pass after a short time.
General mild swelling across the lower back
Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel or a thin cloth to the area for up to 10 minutes at a time.
Stiffness and decreased energy levels
Take short walks during the day to ease stiffness and rebuild your energy.
Swelling or discomfort around the donation site
Avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for 7–10 days. Painkillers should help too, but don’t take ibuprofen or anything that contains aspirin for 2-3 days post-donation – it stops your blood clotting properly, which can be dangerous after you’ve donated.
It’s really important that as a donor, you’re healthy and feeling okay. Here’s what to expect over the next few days and weeks…
24-48 hours post-donation: You may be feeling some side effects and need a day or two to recover from the donation. See our advice for taking care of yourself after your donation.
2-3 days post-donation: A member of the Donor Follow Up team will call to see how you’re doing, share information about the follow-up process, and answer any questions you may have.
7 days post-donation: You’ll receive a survey by email about your recovery. It’s really important you complete this survey so we know if you’re recovered, or if you need further support to get you feeling back to your usual self!
14 days post-donation: If you donated bone marrow (not PBSC) you may get a second email or call to see how you’re doing, as it can take a little longer to recover from this type of donation.
1 month post-donation: You’ll receive another survey by email about your recovery, and it’s important you complete and return it to us. We’ll also ask for feedback on your donation experience.
Year 1 and beyond: If you donated via PBSC or bone marrow, we’ll send you the occasional questionnaire for up to 10 years to see how you’re doing. It’s crucial you fill these in, so we know how you’re getting on.
Share your experience
If you post online about your donation experience, please tag us so we can support your post on any platform.
You can also share your story with us and it could be featured on our official social media pages or our donor stories page.
Share your story with us
Just complete a story consent form and we'll be in touch!