How It Feels Like to Donate Your Own Stem Cells for a Good Cause
Stem cell transplants have been quite successful since its first use many years ago. Since then, people are looking to donate their own stem cells for people who will need some transplants.
People donate their stem cells either because they have a loved one that is in need of their specialized cells or that they just want to help the community in any way possible.
Regardless of what reasons they have for donating; it actually feels good knowing that you’re doing it for a good cause.
The Process of Donation
If you’re looking to donate your own stem cells, there is a process that you must undergo. First, you can talk to a health care provider, typically some hospitals that have their own stem cell bank.
You can also talk to the different for-profit or non-profit organizations that handle stem cell donations. One example would be the National Marrow Donor Program. They will lead you to a health institution that will be responsible for harvesting your stem cells for donation.
Second, your blood sample will be tested so that they will know your what your HLA type is. The HLA type is just an indicator to see if your stem cells match the patient who is in need.
Since stem cells can also be acquired from the amniotic fluid found in the mother’s umbilical cord, pregnant women can also donate their stem cells. Although, you have to remember that only women who are still in the first trimester can donate.
Before the Donation
Aside from getting a blood sample, you will have to sign a consent form that states that you are donating your stem cells out of free will and for the benefit of the patients who are in need of it.
The consent form also provides some information about the potential risks of donating your stem cells, so be sure to read through everything so that you will know what you’re getting into.
Once you’ve completely decided to donate your own stem cells, you will then undergo a series of tests to ensure that you’re a person who is fit to be a donor.
There are three sources where doctors can get stem cells. They can either harvest them from the donor’s bone marrow, the peripheral system, and even from the Umbilical cord.
In bone marrow stem cell harvest, donors are given general anesthesia to help mitigate the pain and also induce sleepiness as well.
The stem cells can then be extracted from your hip bone and the entire process is done while the donor is asleep.
After the extraction, the donor will then be observed for a couple of hours (or even days) just to ensure that everything is alright.
When stem cells are harvested from the donor’s bloodstream (also known as Peripheral Blood or Peripheral System), days prior to the operation, they will be given an injection of Filgrastim which is a growth-factor drug that will force the bone marrow to release stem cells into the person’s bloodstream so that it will be easy to extract.
Once the operation commences, the doctor will then put a catheter inside a large vein (typically located in the donor’s arm) and blood will rush through it. A machine is then used to extract all of the stem cells while the filtered blood is recycled back into the person’s body.
If a pregnant woman decides to donate some stem cells from their baby’s umbilical cord, they can do so after the baby is born.
The doctors actually just need the blood that is found in the placenta since it is the only thing that is rich in the much-needed stem cells.
The blood that is from the umbilical cord is then sterilized, preserved, and frozen until it is time for a transplant.