More and more, stem cells are being used to treat a wide variety of serious blood and bone marrow diseases, such as leukemia. As such, more and more healthcare services are requesting stem cell donations to aid in their treatments.
For instance, the Canadian Blood Services’ OneMatch program matches people who register as donors with compatible patients who need stem cell transplants from around the world. According to CBS, less than a quarter of patients who need a stem cell transplant can find a compatible donor from within their family, making outside donors crucial.
However, there are some important factors you need to know about before you decide to become a stem cell donor.
STEM CELL DONOR REQUIREMENTS
In order to become a donor, you must meet a number of stem cell donor requirements. For instance, you must be between 17-35 years old and, at time of writing, CBS are requesting more male donors. Stem cell donor requirements also include freedom from a number of blood-based diseases, including diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, as well as cancer and heart conditions. There are also height and weight restrictions to ensure safety during surgical operations.
STEM CELL DONATION PROCEDURES
Once you register, you’ll only have to undergo a stem cell donation procedure once a match is found and you pass a medical examination. Once you’ve passed your assessment, there are two different stem cell donation procedures you may have to go through.
The Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation procedure is a simple blood drawing. Once the stem cells are collected from your blood, the remainder will be re-injected into your body. You will also have to receive daily “granulocyte colony stimulated factor” injections for five days prior to the procedure to increase your blood stem cell count.
The second procedure, Bone Marrow Stem Cell donation, is more serious and requires surgery under anesthesia. While you’re under, doctors will extract stem cells from the bone marrow of your back pelvic bones with hollow needles.
POSSIBLE RISKS OF STEM CELL DONATION
While both procedures carry risks, possible side effects have more to do with the procedures themselves, rather than the loss of your stem cells.
With the PBSC donation, CBS warns that you could experience bone and muscle pain treatable by over-the-counter medications, as well as nausea, discomfort, headaches and a low-grade fever. They note that while side effects are “usually mild to moderate and short in duration,” collecting stem cells through blood is a new procedure and could possibly have long-term side effects.
The risks of bone marrow donation are all common risks from surgery, including infection, leg pain, lower back discomfort, as well as common side effects of anesthetics, including nausea and sore throats. However, CBS notes “Most donors recover well and are back to their normal routine within several days.”
After either procedure, the CBS will connect you with a case manager who will keep track of your condition until you are fully recovered.
“WHY SHOULD I BECOME A STEM CELL DONOR?”
As daunting as this process might seem, especially to those with a fear of needles or hospitals, there’s no understating the importance of having a large, diverse pool of stem cell donors available, as matches are often found within the same ethnic group. While it could be months or even years before a match is found and you’re called upon to donate, a few days of inconvenience for you could mean the difference between life and death for someone who needs a stem cell donation.
Keep in mind that RegenerVate’s state-of-the-art stem cell therapies are completely non-surgical and use your own stem cells to treat your body’s chronic aches and pains.
From chronic joint pain to muscle injuries, our guided injections use X-ray and ultrasound technology to locate the best injection sites for your condition, ensuring maximum precision. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!