Have questions about bone marrow donation?
There is a considerable amount of information about bone
marrow donation on this site. Click here to
get started. You can also find answers to questions on the Links
page. You can read about the experiences of other living marrow donors
on the Experiences
Here are additional questions and answers:
Q1: How do I go about donating bone marrow or
peripheral blood stem cells?
Q2: What's the difference between donating bone
marrow and donating peripheral blood stem cells?
Q3: What are peripheral blood stem cells?
Q4: What are the long-term effects of donating
marrow or stem cells?
Q5: I'd like to volunteer to donate to someone in
need who is not necessarily a relative. Is that OK?
Q6: I need money and would like to donate marrow.
Can I do this?
Q7: I'm ready to donate. Who pays?
Q8: I've been asked to donate but I don't want to
do it. What should I do?
Q9: I've got lots of questions about donating. Who
do I talk to?
A1: How do I go about donating bone marrow
or peripheral blood stem cells?
Your ability to donate depends on several factors such as your blood
type, tissue compatibility, and your general health. You can read about
the assessment process here.
In the case of related donation, you will also need to consider who
else might be available to donate and how to decide who ultimately
donates. If you are considering unrelated marrow donation, the process
begins with registering with a marrow registry and completing a
preliminary blood test. Read about volunteering here.
A2: What's the difference between donating
bone marrow and donating peripheral blood stem cells?
The key difference is the process for collecting the donation. In the
case of bone marrow, the donor undergoes a surgical procedure under
general anesthesia. In the case of peripheral blood stem cells, the
donor takes medication to stimulate production of stem cells, which are
then collected through a process similar to blood donation. Read about
the procedures here.
A3: What are peripheral blood stem cells?
Stem cells are "precursor" or "mother" cells in bone marrow that are
responsible for creating different kind of blood cells, such as white
blood cells. These are the desirable kinds of cells for donation
because they help a recipient restore the content of their blood to
A4: What are the long-term effects of
donating marrow or stem cells?
Most research to date has focused on the short-term effects of
donation, such as the ability of the donor to recovery following the
taking of Filgrastim, a medication used in peripheral blood stem cell
donation. Longer-term studies have not yet been done. But, at the
least, the research that has been done to date indicates little or no
effect on donors.
A5: I'd like to volunteer to donate to
someone in need who is not necessarily a relative. Is that OK?
Absolutely! In fact, there are special bone marrow donor registries set
up around the world specifically to encourage unrelated donation. You
need to sign up with one of the registries and provide a blood or buccal (cheek) cell sample. If
your blood and tissue types match a patient, the registry will contact
you for further evaluation and possible donation.
A6: I need money and would like to donate
marrow. Can I do this?
No. In fact, unrelated donation requires a preliminary blood test that
is paid for by the potential donor (you). Donating bone marrow is not
paid for by donor registries or collection centers.
A7: I'm ready to donate. Who pays?
If you are volunteering for unrelated donation, you pay for the initial
blood or buccal (cheek) cell test. The cost runs about $50 to $100. If you are selected for
further evaluation, all subsequent charges are paid for by the
potential recipient's medical plan. There is no reimbursement for time
off from work, however.
If you are being considered for donation to a family member,
the medical plan of your relative will pick up the costs. There is no
reimbursement for time off from work.
A8: I've been asked to donate but I don't
want to do it. What should I do?
In the case of related donation, the decision whether or not to donate
ultimately is yours. So, the first thing is not to let people pressure
you. Next, make sure you have all the information you need to make an
educated decision. There's information here on LDO and on the Links page. Ask
questions in the LDO Community Message Forum. If you are frightened of
things you don't understand, then seek out the information that helps
you understand. If you decide not to donate and are concerned about the
reaction of friends and family, talk to a social worker or psychologist
on the transplant team. They will be able to help you work out a way of
A9: I've got lots of questions about
donating. Who do I talk to?
In the case of related donation, the first place to go is the
transplant team. Talk to the transplant coordinator (usually a nurse),
the surgeon, the social worker, whomever you are most comfortable with.
You should also consider talking with friends, family, religious
leaders, and others you trust. You can also ask questions here in the
LDO Message Forum or request a bone marrow Living Donor Buddy™.
For volunteers, you can ask questions of the donor registry or
at the collection center. You can also ask questions here in the LDO