What exactly is a marrow / stem cell transplant?
Simply, it is the replacement of diseased marrow with marrow from a healthy donor infused into a patient’s vein just like a blood transfusion. Within two to three weeks the transplanted marrow/stem cells begin to produce normal cells.
Is marrow/stem cell transplantation a proven technique?
Twenty-five years ago marrow transplants were done only as a patient’s last hope Today, thousands of lives are saved every year..
Which diseases can be treated by marrow transplant?
Over 50 diseases including the leukemias, aplastic anemia, severe combined immune deficiency, sickle cell anemia and radiation poisoning are treated by marrow transplant.
What are the actual chances of finding a suitable marrow\stem cell donor?
The odds are 1 in 20,000 of identifying an unrelated compatible marrow donor..much higher, however, for patients of minority heritage.
Are donors matched only against American patients?
No, the patient could be anywhere in the world. Many, many American patients have found donors from International donor sources.
Who can become a marrow / stem cell donor?
You must be between 18 and 60 years old, have no history of hepatitis, heart disease, cancer or AIDS, possess a positive attitude and pride in wanting to become a donor, and sign a consent form allowing the Registry to include your HLA tissue type in its confidential files for future matching.
And it only takes a simple laboratory test to get started?
Once the consent form is signed, YES, it’s that simple..Upon receipt of your HLA type from the laboratory that information is entered into the master donor panel and assigned a coded ID number to protect your confidentiality.
How is the test sample collected?
A cell sample is obtained by using buccal (cheek/mouth) swabs. Kits containing the swabs and detailed instructions are provided to donors.
What does the initial HLA testing cost?
It costs the Registry $75 to test and enroll a new donor. If a donor cares to donate all or part of that cost the donation is acknowledged for tax purposes as allowed under law.
How do I know if I am a match?
If you are found to be a possible match with a patient we will contact you immediately and give you the option of proceeding to the next level/s of testing to insure final HLA compatibility with the patient.
Who pays for these tests?
Not you - the patient or his/her medical insurance does.
What happens if I am a match?
If the match is confirmed the transplant can be scheduled but only with your legal consent after in-depth counseling and a thorough physical examination.
Okay, now tell me how my marrow is collected?
Two procedures are available for marrow collection.
Peripheral blood stem cell collection
You are given small injections of Neupogen/Filgrastin for 3 to 5 days to stimulate your marrow to overproduce marrow or stem cells which are then released into your circulating blood. The stem cells are collected by removing blood from a vein in your arm, passing it through a filter system which collects the stem cells and returns the remaining blood to you…a 4 to 5 hour procedure.
Bone marrow harvest
You are given light general anesthesia so that you feel nothing during the procedure. Only 2% to 3% of your marrow is withdrawn from the large crest of your hip bone through special sterile needles .. a 30 to 45 minute procedure. You may go home the same day or the next day.
Are there any risks or side effects?
Peripheral blood stem cell collection (PBSC) .....You might experience some flu- like symptoms, bone pain, or a feeling of heaviness during the injections.These discomforts usually disappear soon after the collection is completed. This will be discussed in detail with you.
Bone marrow harvest...Other than the remote chance of a reaction you may experience some soreness in the lower back for a few days.
Can I withdraw as a donor any time I want to?
Up until the time you provide us with your final, legal consent to proceed to harvest-YES! We hope that you would not want to change your mind as too much is at stake for the patient needing your help
American Bone Marrow Donor Registry DBA: Bone Marrow Donor Registry-American a 501c3 organization