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Post donation care advice

Symptoms you might experience, and what to do about them

Sonny Malhorta donating his stem cells

Looking after yourself

No two people are the same after donating. Some may feel tired, while others ache. Some may feel nothing at all. Please follow any advice given to you by your Collection Centre.

Below is our advice about how to take care of yourself and deal with any side-effects. The main thing is to rest and take it easy.

If you’ve got any questions or concerns after your donation please call the Donor Follow Up team on 020 7424 6568

If you’ve donated peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC)

Many people feel totally fine after donating stem cells, but one or more of the following symptoms are also common:

SymptomWhat you can do
Mild flu-like symptoms such as headache, muscle and bone painTake pain-relief medication like paracetamol. Don’t take anything that contains aspirin. This stops your blood clotting properly, which can be dangerous after you’ve donated.
Bruising easilyLow platelet levels stop your blood clotting as easily and cause bruising. But don’t worry, your platelets will return to normal soon.
Feeling tiredRest. Don’t do anything too strenuous for the first 48 hours after you’ve donated.

If you’ve donated bone marrow

The side effects after donating bone marrow vary from donor to donor, but everyone is different. The important thing is to listen to your body, rest and don’t push yourself.

Below are some common side effects – and what you can do to relieve them:

SymptomWhat you can do
Feeling light-headed in the morningTake it easy in general. Be careful and go slowly when you stand up first thing in the morning.
Disturbed sleep patterns and loss of appetiteEat small, well-balanced snacks or light meals. Again, take it easy and get early nights to help you return to your regular sleeping pattern.
Swelling around the area where doctors took your bone marrow and/or discomfort when bending, lifting or drivingAvoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for 7–10 days. Painkillers should help, too
General swelling across your lower backApply an ice pack to the area for up to 10 minutes at a time
Stiffness and decreased energy levelsTake short walks during the day to ease stiffness and rebuild your energy
Experiencing a sense of anti-climax after you donate, or perhaps feeling tearful or irritableThese feelings are quite common after general anaesthetic and will pass after a short time
Extreme tiredness for five or six days after you donateThis is also quite common. Spend plenty of time resting and the tiredness will pass

Any questions?

If you have questions about any of your symptoms, please just call the Donor Follow-Up team on 0207 424 6568, or email