Before you donate your stem cells, you’ll have a medical that involves various checks and tests to help make sure you’re fit and healthy to donate. This not only helps us keep you safe throughout your donation journey, but it also makes sure we keep your recipient safe too.
To help you know what to expect at your medical, this page has the key things to remember, including:
- When and where your medical will take place
- What to expect at your medical
- What happens after your medical
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your Donor Provision Coordinator at Anthony Nolan.
When and where your medical will take place
- Where will the medical be?
The medical has to take place in one of our six Collection Centres, rather than your local hospital or GP. These are in London, Sheffield, Manchester and Oxford, and will be the same hospital where your donation takes place. At most of our centres, the medical will happen in the cancer centre or haematology ward.
- When will the medical be?
The medical will usually take place 2-4 weeks before your donation - some of the tests you need must be performed within 30 days of the donation. If the medical needs to be much closer or further away from the donation, then your coordinator will explain this to you.
- How long will the medical take?
Your medical will take 2-3 hours. You might be required to go to a different building or department for certain tests.
- Can you bring someone with you?
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you are not able to bring a companion into the hospital with you at the moment. However, you can bring someone with you for the journey if you want to.
We will book travel for you and a companion to and from the medical, or we can reimburse any costs to you if you want to make the booking yourself or for driving, parking, congestion charge etc.
Food and drink will also be reimbursed for the medical for both you and a companion up to £35 per person.
What to expect at your medical
- What will you be asked at your medical?
At your medical, you’ll meet one of the friendly haematology doctors who will talk you through the donation procedure and give you a chance to ask any questions.
The doctor will ask you questions about your general health and medical history, any family medical history that might be relevant, as well as any recent travel. They will ask you to complete a Health History Questionnaire and sign all the relevant consent forms.
You should also have the chance to walk around the ward you will be donating on, see the machines that are used and possibly see someone else donating to help you know what to expect.
- What tests will be carried out?
While at your medical, you will have your vitals checked, some blood tests, a urine test, an ECG to check on your heart, a COVID swab and a pregnancy test (if required).
- Why do we need to do these tests?
All these tests are really important for keeping you safe throughout your donation, as well as making sure you don’t have any viruses that you could pass to your recipient.
The blood and urine tests will check for any underlying illnesses, conditions or viruses that mean you wouldn’t be able to donate your stem cells. An ECG is carried out routinely at medical to look at your heart for any underlying undiagnosed rhythm disorders. A pregnancy test is done as you cannot donate if you are pregnant.
If there is anything we need to chat to you about, we’ll get in touch and we may ask you to complete some extra testing ahead of donation.
- What do I need to bring for the medical?
You do not need to bring anything with you for the medical. There are no fitness tests, so no gym clothes etc. are required, just wear something comfortable that gives easy access to your arm for the blood tests.
The blood tests are not fasting tests, so please ensure you eat and drink plenty before the medical. We will send you a copy of the forms you are required to sign, but you do not need to bring these with you, a copy will be at your medical.
What happens after your medical
- When will you get your results?
It usually takes 3-4 days for us to get the results back from the Collection Centre before our in-house medical team review them and make sure you’re able to go ahead with your donation. We’ll then get in touch with you to update you on the results, which is usually within one week of your medical.
- What would happen if the transplant was delayed?
There are a couple of reasons that the transplant may be delayed. This could be because of the recipient’s health – they may need some more treatment or more time to recover before their transplant. It could also be because of donor health – we may need to ask you to have some more tests performed. We also sometimes run into logistical issues that can cause delays.
Some of the blood tests that are performed at the medical are only valid for 30 days, so if the transplant is delayed by more than 30 days after the medical, we may need to ask to you have a repeat blood test. We can usually arrange for this to happen locally, with a nurse coming to visit you, or you may prefer to return to the Collection Centre for this.
If you have any questions or want any more information about what to expect at your medical, please speak to your Coordinator.