Donating stem cells used to be a huge deal. But boy, have times changed! In most countries, stem cell donations are mostly done like a long blood donation, with the donor fully awake, watching Netflix and eating chocolate bars (yes, plural).

In only about 10% of cases, a one-day surgical procedure will be needed to extract bone marrow from the hip bone. Don’t worry: sounds scarier than it is. Regardless of how the donation is done, the body replenishes the donated stem cells in about 4 to 6 weeks.

Here’s a quick explanation of both techniques.

1- Peripheral blood cell (PBSC) donation involves stimulating the production of stem cells for a few days to release them in the bloodstream , then removing a donor’s blood through a needle in one arm. The blood is passed through a machine that separates out the stem cells used in transplants. The remaining blood is returned through the other arm. This is how most donations work.  

2- Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure in which liquid marrow is withdrawn from the back of the donor’s hip bone using needles. Anaesthesia is always used for this procedure, so donors feel no pain during marrow donation. This procedure is usually preferred when patients in need of a transplant are small children. Wait, what? That’s right—there’s a lot of little kids out there waiting for your healthy cells! So stop being a scaredy-cat and hop into that sexy hospital gown.

Other Questions

Worldwide donor registry?

What’s this umbilical cord business?

What if I say no?

What are the odds of actually donating stem cells?

Can I give to a specific person?

How bad is it for ethnic groups?

Age restrictions? But whyyyy?

Is it going to hurt?

I’ve heard young men make better donors. Isn’t that a tad sexist?

Bone marrow, stem cells, spinal cord: what’s the diff?

What diseases can be treated by stem cells?