Symptoms you might experience, and what to do about them
Looking after yourself
No two donors are the same after donating. Some may feel tired, while others ache. Some may have no side effects at all. Please follow any advice given to you by the hospital staff.
For urgent out-of-hours issues please contact the 24-
If you’ve donated peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC)
Many people feel totally fine after donating stem cells, but one or more of the symptoms below are also common.
In order to aid your recovery, we recommend that you take a multivitamin supplement for 2-4 weeks after your donation, particularly if you donated over 2 days.
Low platelet levels post-donation may cause you to bruise more easily than usual, but don’t worry, your platelets will return to normal within a couple of days.
Rest. Don’t do anything too strenuous for the first 48 hours after you’ve donated. Your energy levels will improve over the next few days.
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 after donating bone marrow vary from donor to donor, as everyone is different. The important thing is to listen to your body, rest and don’t push yourself.
To aid your recovery, we recommend that you take a multivitamin supplement for 2-4 weeks after you have donated.
Below are some common side effects of donation – and what you can do to relieve them:
Disturbed sleep patterns, and loss of appetite
Eat small, well-balanced snacks or light meals. Take it easy, and get early nights to help you return to your regular sleeping pattern.
This is quite common after a bone marrow donation. 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. This should resolve within a few days.
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 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 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.
If you donated lymphocytes
Most people feel fine after donating lymphocytes, but there are two main side effects to look out for:
Bruising at the donation site
You may have some bruising at the donation site, especially if it took a few attempts to place the needle. Avoid strenuous activity, and try to keep the bruised area slightly elevated where possible.
Make sure you rest and avoid any strenuous activity for 24 hours after donating.