Donation FAQ's

 

Need help deciding? Get answers to frequently asked questions about the donation process . . .

Need help deciding? Get answers to frequently asked questions about the donation process... Doctors look for a donor who matches their patient's tissue type, specifically their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type. HLAs are proteins markers found on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses these markers to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not. The closer the match between the patient's HLA markers and yours, the better for the patient.


Matching a Patient


How is a Match Determined?

Doctors look for a donor who matches their patient's tissue type, specifically their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type. HLAs are proteins markers found on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses these markers to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not. The closer the match between the patient's HLA markers and yours, the better for the patient.


How Likely is it that I Will Match a Patient and Go on to Donate?

Due to the vast variation in tissue types, we can't predict an individual registry member's chance of donating to a patient. If you have a relatively common tissue type, you might be one of many who could match a searching patient. If you have an uncommon tissue type, you may never match a patient, or you might be the only one on the registry who can save a person's life. Every person who joins the registry gives patients more hope of finding the match they need. The most important thing you can do as a registry member is to stay informed and committed so that if you're selected as the best donor, you're ready to move forward.


What Happens if I Match a Patient?

More testing will be done to see if you are the best possible match for the patient. We may ask for another cheek swab or blood sample or we may be able to use a stored sample. Though almost all patient information is confidential, we can tell you the patient's age, gender, and disease.

If the patient's doctor selects you as the best donor for the patient, we will schedule an information session so you can learn more about the donation process, risks, and side effects. At that time, we can also tell you the type of donation the patient's doctor has requested — either bone marrow or PBSC donation.


Deciding to Donate


Can I Change My Mind?

You have the right to change your mind about being a donor at any time. Donating is always voluntary.

If you decide you do not want to donate, let us know right away. We will need to continue the search for another donor without delays for the patient.


What is a Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) Donation?

PBSC donation is a non-surgical procedure done in an outpatient clinic. PBSC donors receive daily injections of a drug called filgrastim for five days, to increase the number of blood-forming cells in the bloodstream. Then, through a process called apheresis, a donor's blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to the donor through the other arm.


Where Do I Donate?

Apheresis procedures are done at most major medical centers. Pareto has partner hospitals all across the country. If you live close to a major city, then you will most likely be able to donate there. 


Do I Have To Pay For Travel Costs?

We're here to make the donation process as simple and easy for you as possible. Pareto covers all of your transportation costs in addition to what you earn from the donation. 


How Long Does Donating Take?

Becoming a donor requires a time commitment. Before you donate, there are several steps to make sure you are the best donor for the patient. These steps include an information session to provide resources to help you make your decision, as well as appointments for additional blood tests and a physical exam. The time needed for the actual donation depends on the donation procedure.

The typical time commitment for the donation process is 20-30 hours of your time spread out over a four-to-six-week period. 


What if I Have Medical Complications Related to the Donation?

We have extensive contacts with healthcare organizations and medical professionals who are experts in bone marrow, blood cell transplants, and medical care. We will work with them to help find care for complications related to donation.


Donating PBSC


What is PBSC Donation?

Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation is a way to collect blood-forming cells for transplantation. The same blood-forming cells that can be donated from the bone marrow are also found in the circulating (peripheral) blood. Before donation, a donor takes injections of a drug called filgrastim to move more blood-forming cells out of the bone marrow and into the bloodstream. Then the donor's blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to the donor through the other arm. This process is similar to donating plasma.


What is the PBSC Donation Process Like?

Donating PBSC involves two steps: receiving injections of filgrastim and making the donation.

Receiving Filgrastim Injections: To move more blood-forming cells from your bone marrow to your bloodstream, you will receive filgrastim, a drug given by injection each day for five days before the donation.

The first injection will be given at a donor center or medical clinic. You may receive injections on days two, three, and four at your place of work, your home, at a donor center or at a medical clinic. On the fifth day, you will receive your final dose of filgrastim, and then donate your blood cells at the donor center or hospital outpatient unit.

Donating: PBSC donation is done through a process called apheresis, which is similar to donating plasma. During apheresis, a needle will be placed into each of your arms. Blood will be removed from a vein in one arm and passed through tubing into a blood cell separator machine.

The machine collects blood-forming cells, platelets and some white blood cells. Plasma and red blood cells are returned to your body through the other arm. All the tubing used in the machine is sterile and is used only once for your donation. If only one donation is done, it may take up to eight hours. If two donations are done on separate days, each collection will take four to six hours.


Does Donating PBSC Hurt? Are There Side Effects?

Donors may experience headaches or bone and muscle pain, similar to a cold or the flu, for several days before collection. These are side effects of the filgrastim injections that disappear shortly after donation. Other common side effects are nausea, trouble sleeping, and tiredness. Less than one percent (0.6%) of donors experience serious side effects from filgrastim.

The PBSC donation procedure can also have side effects. Some donors experience tingling around the mouth, fingers, toes, and mild muscle cramps. This is caused by the anticoagulant (blood thinner) used in the apheresis procedure. These symptoms are easily treated with calcium replacement or by slowing down the procedure. Other common side effects include bruising at the needle site, chills and a decrease in the blood platelet count.


Are There Risks to Donating PBSC?

Yes, however, fewer than 1% of PBSC donors experience a serious side effect from the donation process.

PBSC donation may require placement of a central line if you do not have suitable arm veins. A central venous line is a sterile tube that is inserted into one of the larger veins — the femoral vein, internal jugular vein, or subclavian vein. Based on our experience, 19% of women and 3% of men require central line placement. The risk of serious complications from use of a central line is small. A central line will be placed only with your consent after you have received information about the possible risks.