The Donation Process
The donation process has several steps which could take many hours spread over a several week period. The first step is an information session that takes about an hour. The second step is a physical exam, which is done at a medical facility close to where the donor lives and takes approximately two hours, not including travel time.
The donation itself will require traveling to the closest collection facility to the donor — either Dallas, Fort Worth or Houston — and usually requires a day and a half including travel.
You will not be responsible for any donation-related costs. We cover medical costs and reimburse all travel expenses.
Two Ways to Donate
There are two types of donation. The patient's doctor will choose the type of donation that is best for the patient. Regardless of the donation process chosen, you will typically go home the same day.
For a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection, you will be given an injection of a protein called filgrastim each day for five days. This increases the number of stem cells released from the bone marrow into the blood stream.
On the fifth and sixth day, your stem cells are collected by a procedure called apheresis. This is the same procedure used to collect platelets from a platelet donor. During apheresis, your blood will be removed through a sterile tube and passes through an apheresis machine that separates out the stem cells. Your remaining blood components, minus the stem cells, are returned to you in another sterile tube placed into the other arm.
Marrow donation is a day surgical procedure during which you will be under anesthesia. The marrow is collected through a needle placed into the iliac crest of the pelvic bone.
The procedure usually takes from 20 to 30 minutes, not counting anesthesia time. The donor is usually released from the hospital within a few hours and returns home either the same day or following morning depending on travel arrangements.
For more information about the types of donation, visit the National Marrow Donor Program website.