Most healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 60 can donate stem
cells from their blood. Collecting or harvesting stem cells from your
bloodstream is called apheresis.
For 4 or 5 days before you donate, you will get shots to help your
bone marrow make and send more stem cells into your bloodstream. The medicine in the
shots may cause bone and muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, and difficulty
sleeping. These side effects usually go away 2 or 3 days later.
Donations are done in a blood center or hospital. A nurse will
stick a needle into a vein in your arm to take your blood. Your blood is sent
through a machine that takes out the stem cells and saves them. Then your blood
is sent back into you through a needle in your other arm. If the veins in your
arm won't work, the doctor may put a catheter in your neck or chest instead. In
local anesthesia is used.
The donation takes from 4 to 5 hours. You won't be able to move
around during that time.
It's not unusual to feel lightheaded, have chills, feel numbness
around your lips, or have cramping in your hands during the donation.
The donation may need to be repeated the next day, depending on how
many stem cells are needed.
You will be able to go home after the donation and resume your
normal activities. If the donation needs to be repeated and a catheter was
used, you may need to stay overnight in the hospital.
Your bone marrow will make new stem cells to replace the ones you
In rare cases, temporary
anemia and low platelet counts develop after a person donates stem cells by
December 14, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
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