Will the person I’ve helped need me again?
You may be asked to donate again if your recipient needs a top up or another stem cell transplant:
- In about 5% of cases, a second stem cell donation is needed, and this is usually within a year of the first donation.
- In about 15% of cases, a top-up of white blood cells (lymphocytes) may be requested after your first donation. Lymphocyte donation could happen as part of the original treatment plan or where a recipient’s disease returns, and their body needs an extra boost.
When will my recipient have the transplant?
This depends on whether the donation was due to be ‘fresh’ or ‘cryopreserved’:
- If it was a fresh donation, your recipient will receive the transplant of your donated cells within 72 hours of your donation – it’s all very quick!
- If you were told that your donated cells were due to be cryopreserved (frozen), one of the Donor Follow Up team will be in touch in a few weeks to let you know the outcome of your donation.
- In some very rare cases the recipient may become too unwell for transplant and your stem cell donation may not be used. If this happens, we will be touch and you will be supported by our team as we understand this can be upsetting news to receive.
Can I stay on the register?
You will be kept in reserve for your current recipient for 2 years after your donation. After those 2 years, we'll pop you back on the general register so you could potentially donate to another patient.
Some health conditions may affect whether you can remain on the register, and some conditions could also impact your recipient, so it's important you keep in touch with us and let us know of any changes to your health in the future.
How many times could I be a match?
Out of over 600 Anthony Nolan donors a year, on average four or five of these individuals go on to donate to a second person. We won’t ask you to donate to more than two people.
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.
Getting an update if your recipient is in the UK
We may be able to get an update on your recipient at around 1 year post-donation.
We cannot guarantee an update as we do not always receive them. This could be for a number of reasons, such as your recipient not agreeing to share their data, or their hospital not uploading the information to the patient update database, but if you have told us you would like an update, we will do our best to get one for you.
The Donor Follow Up team will be in touch to let you know if we do receive an update.
Getting an update if your recipient is overseas
Each country has different rules around patient updates, and not all countries provide updates.
During the follow-up phone call 2-3 days after your donation, the Donor Follow Up team will let you know if an update may be possible. If it is possible, and you would like one, we aim to send you an update at around 1 year post-donation.
- We cannot guarantee an update, and there may be delays to getting one.
- Many countries can only provide 1 update. If you request any further updates, we can try to find out some further news, but we cannot guarantee that any additional updates will be provided.
Will I know if my recipient doesn’t survive/ What if my recipient doesn’t survive?
It is very hard to say if the person you have donated to will survive, and this is due to lots of factors such as why they needed the transplant.
If we are informed that your recipient has sadly died after the transplant, and if you asked for updates, we will contact you to let you know.
Transplant is just the beginning of a long journey for your recipient, but no matter what happens, you’ll have given them more precious time with their friends and family, and importantly, hope. And that’s something truly incredible.
Can I contact my recipient?
It may be possible for you to write to your recipient anonymously after the transplant, but not all countries allow donor-recipient communication. During your follow-up phone call 2-3 days after donation, the Donor Follow Up team will tell you if anonymous communication may be possible.
In order to maintain anonymity, we must abide by the following rules for any donor- recipient communication:
- Personal details such your name, address, specific details about your profession and any family details must be excluded.
- No photos or gifts may be exchanged.
- Donor-recipient communications must not be shared publicly.
Please bear in mind that even if your recipient is allowed to write to you, they might decide not to. We do understand that this could be upsetting but we cannot ask the recipient to write back.
If you would like to send a letter for your recipient, please email your message to firstname.lastname@example.org and remember to include a note with your name and donor ID so we know who to send your message on to.
If you are unsure if your recipient is in a country that allows anonymous communication, or if you would like more information then please contact the Donor Follow Up team on 020 7424 6568 or at email@example.com
Can I meet my recipient?
If your recipient lives in a country that allows direct contact, it might be possible to exchange contact details with them, or even meet one day. However, there are some important things to be aware of:
- Not all countries allow direct contact, and policies can change at any time.
- The initial request for direct contact can only be made by your recipient (or their family if they are under 18), and this can only happen at least 2 years after the last transplant and provided they are in good health.
- Direct contacts are a rare occurrence, with only a very small number of completed direct contact exchanges each year.
- You may have seen stories on our social media pages, or on the news about heart-warming donor-patient meetings which may make it seem as though this is a common occurrence, but in reality, it is actually quite rare. These stories are a fantastic way to share the positive outcomes that can happen thanks to the generosity of donors like you, and the amazing work of transplant teams and coordinators.
- Even if you never hear from or meet your recipient, you have done an incredible thing by donating your stem cells or bone marrow and giving someone a second chance of life.
If we do receive a request for direct contact from your recipient, we’ll be in touch with you to help you decide what you’d like to do and explain the next steps.