The Process of Donating Stem Cells

January 10, 2019

Are you interested in becoming a stem cell donor? If so, there are several different ways those cells can be collected and used in orthopedics in Fort Mill, SC and other treatments.

Here is some information about each of those methods.

Bone marrow stem cell donation

The process of donating bone marrow stem cells is often called a “bone marrow harvest,” a procedure that’s performed under general anesthesia in the operating room. The marrow cells get taken out of the back of the pelvic bone. During the procedure, the donor lies face down, and a large needle is put through the skin and the hip bone to access the liquid marrow. This process is repeated a few times until the doctor has harvested enough marrow. The amount of marrow varies based on the weight of the donor, but usually it’ll be about two pints over the course of one or two hours. The body will then automatically replace these cells and marrow within four to six weeks.

Once the procedure is over, you’ll go to a recovery room until the anesthesia wears off, after which you’ll be kept under hospital supervision until you’re deemed ready to leave (usually after a few hours or, in some cases, overnight). You may experience some temporary soreness, bruising and aches at the back of the hips and your lower back for several days. You should be able to return to your normal, everyday schedule within several days. Serious complications are rare, making this a relatively risk-free procedure.

Peripheral stem cell donation

To prepare for peripheral stem cell donation, you’ll receive daily injections of filgrastim, which causes the bone marrow to release a lot of stem cells in your blood. You might experience bone pain and headaches as side effects, but you can use Tylenol or anti-inflammatory drugs to counteract these effects.

The blood gets removed through a catheter put into your arm, then gets cycled through a machine that separates the stem cells from other types of blood cells. The rest of the blood is returned to you, while the stem cells are kept for donation. The process is an outpatient procedure and takes about two to four hours. This is a process that’s also often used when you’ll be using your own stem cells for procedures in your body.

Umbilical cord stem cell donation

Umbilical cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born. Its collection does not at all risk the health of the infant or the mother—these are cells that would otherwise just be thrown away. After the umbilical cord gets cut and clamped, the technician will clean the cord and placenta and store the cold blood in a sterile container. Parents often choose to donate this blood to blood banks—hospitals often have paperwork available in birth centers for new parents who wish to make this decision.

For more information about stem cell donation, what to expect from the procedure and how it benefits orthopedics in Fort Mill, SC, contact Apollo Physical Medicine or pay a visit to our orthopedic clinic today.

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