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Self-administering G-CSF injections

Self-administering G-CSF injections

If you’re donating your stem cells through the PBSC method, in the lead up to your donation day you’ll need to have injections of a growth factor known as ‘G-CSF’. 

If you choose to self-administer these injections, we’ve put together some information to help you know what to expect, including what real life donors say about their experience. 

What to expect

How does G-CSF work? 

G-CSF injections are given on the four days before you donate your stem cells to boost your white cells and to release stem cells into the bloodstream ready to collect. You can read more about how they work and the side-effects you might experience on our guide to G-CSF injections page. 

Who can administer the injections? 

If you choose to self-administer your G-CSF injections, either you, a family member or a friend can administer the injections. Whoever is going to do it just needs to be there for the first day for the training from a nurse, and available to give you the injections over the full four days.  

What will the training involve? 

We’ll arrange for a nurse to visit you on the first day and take you through all the steps for administering the injections. The key things to expect are: 

  • Either a nurse will bring along all the pre-filled syringes for your course of injections or, the syringes will be delivered ahead of your first injection – these are easy to use and just need to be kept in the fridge. You should expect to administer more than one injection each day.  
  • A sharps bin will be delivered along with the pre-filled syringes, this will be collected 7 - 14 days after your last injection.
  • Before your training starts, the nurse will take your blood pressure and temperature, and do a pregnancy test for female donors. 
  • The nurse will then show you how to do the injections. These are given subcutaneously, i.e. under the skin in a fleshy part of your body such as the arm, thigh or abdomen. If you’re administering the injections yourself, it’s often easiest to use your abdomen as it’s easy to pinch a bit of flesh with one hand and give the injection with the other.  

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I just did exactly what the nurse taught me to do. Injecting the three needles took no longer than five minutes! Such an easy process, I am actually shocked at how pain-free it is.

  • Try to have the injections at the same time each day - this will reduce the side effects and help produce more stem cells. It’s also best to have them in the evening as it means your last injections will be closer to your donation starting. 
  • The needles self-retract once the dose has been given and then go straight in a sharps bin that the nurse will provide. The nursing company will be in touch about collecting this bin after your donation – if there are any issues with this, let your Anthony Nolan coordinator know. 

Will I have ongoing support? 

Yes! On the first day, the nurse will stay with you for an hour after your injections to make sure you have no side-effects and feel OK.  

If you’re happy with the process, the nurse will arrange to call you the next day when you’re due to do the injections, just in case you have any questions. If it all goes well on the second day, then they’ll leave you to it for the third and fourth day.  

I had a friend with me when I self-administered which helped to give me the confidence to self-inject. It's nice to have someone present for encouragement and to share that experience with you. 

You can always get in touch with your nurse for any questions about your injections, or Anthony Nolan coordinator for any other concerns.  

What happens if I change my mind? 

If you have any doubts about administering the GCSF yourself, please let us know before the first visit where possible, so we can make arrangements for a nurse to visit you over the 4 days instead. If you change your mind after the first injection, we will do our best to find a nurse to cover the rest of the injections for you but this is not guaranteed.

What do real donors say? 

We’ve found that donors who choose to self-administer the injections feel really positive about it and appreciate the independence and convenience. Although some felt a bit nervous doing it, their nurse’s support helped guide them. 

Watch Amii’s video diary of her G-CSF self-administration experience to find out more: