Description of Donation Options

Bone Marrow

Marrow is found in the hollow cavities of the body's large bones. Donation involves withdrawing 2-3 percent of the donor's total marrow from the iliac crest of the hip (posterior aspect of the donor's pelvic bone). There is no cutting or stitching. The procedure involves a needle aspiration, performed using an anesthetic. Typically, the donor enters a medical center’s outpatient facility in the morning and goes home in the afternoon!

Blood Stem Cells

It is possible to collect stem cells from the peripheral blood rather than the bone marrow. In order to collect a sufficient quantity of stem cells, injections of a medication called filgrastim must be administered. This mobilizes stem cells to travel from the bone marrow into the circulating blood. The stem cells are collected through a procedure called apheresis, which is similar to the process used in platelet donation. A cell separating machine filters out the stem cells, which can then be infused in the recipient.

Marrow versus Blood Stem Cells

Please bear in mind that it is the transplant physicians who choose the stem cell source, not the registry. Donors requested for blood stem cell collection will be counseled on the entire process at an information session. With proper guidance, the ultimate decision to donate is up to the donor. If a donor declines to donate blood stem cells, they may also be offered the opportunity to donate bone marrow.

Donor Commitment

  • It is important that registered donors are committed and passionate about saving a life. Withdrawing when called as a match gives false hopes to the patients for whom they are called. As a result, Gift of Life seeks high availability donors.

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