Becoming a Donor

Donors are a crucial part of any Blood and Marrow Transplant Program.

Siblings and non-related donors can both join, though the collection process is different. Siblings can be tested through a simple blood test. This test can be mailed to the sibling and completed by his or her own healthcare provider. If it is a match, additional testing will need to be completed at Saint Francis.

For non-related donors, the Saint Francis Blood and Marrow Transplant Program is an Apheresis and Collection Center of the National Marrow Donor Program. Joining its national database is easy and can help save lives. To learn more, visit the links below or join now.

Steps of Bone Marrow or Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) Donation

Donation FAQs

Learn more about stem cell collection

Facts and Myths about Bone Marrow Donation - National Marrow Donor Program

MYTH: Bone marrow donation is painful.

FACT: General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure. Donors feel no needle injections and no pain during the marrow donation process. Afterwards, most donors feel some pain in the lower back for a few days or longer.

MYTH: All bone marrow donations involve surgery.

FACT: There are two ways to donate. The majority of donations do not involve surgery. The patient's doctor most commonly requests a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, which is non-surgical and outpatient. If the patient's doctor requests marrow, marrow donation is usually an outpatient surgical procedure.

MYTH: Pieces of bone are removed from the donor.

FACT: Pieces of bone are not removed from the donor. In marrow donation, only the liquid marrow found inside the bones is collected. In a PBSC donation, cells are collected from the bloodstream in a process similar to donating plasma. For more details, see the steps of donation.

MYTH: Donating bone marrow is dangerous and weakens the donor.

FACT: Though no medical procedure is without risk, there are rarely any long-term effects from donating. Only five percent or less of a donor's marrow is needed to save a life. After donation, the body replaces the donated marrow within four to six weeks.

MYTH: Bone marrow donation involves a lengthy recovery process.

FACT: Peripheral blood stem cell donors take a drug for the five days leading up to donation and may have symptoms such as headache, bone or muscle pain, nausea, insomnia or fatigue during this time. These symptoms nearly always disappear one or two days after donating.

Marrow donors can expect to feel fatigue, some soreness or pressure in their lower back and perhaps some discomfort walking. Marrow donors can expect to be back to work, school and other activities within one to seven days. The average time for all symptoms to disappear is 21 days.

MYTH: Donors have to pay for the donation procedure.

FACT: Donors never pay for donating and are never paid to donate. All medical costs are paid by the patient's medical insurance or by the patient.