Donating Bone Marrow

Donating bone marrow is a relatively simple procedure that poses little risk to the donor. Complications are rare. Because the procedure is typically done under general anesthesia, it may require a one or two night hospital stay or be done as an outpatient. The donor will be required to have a complete medical examination prior to donating. Because procedures vary, the hospital where the marrow will be donated will provide the details for the donor, including any specific preparatory instructions (for example, dietary restrictions if general anesthesia is used).

From Be the Match

Bone marrow is extracted by inserting a needle through the skin into a large bone. It typically takes about an hour to remove one to three pints of marrow and blood cells, which amounts to only a small proportion (less than 5%) of the donor’s total bone marrow reserves. The harvested marrow is then processed to remove any bits of bone or other unneeded tissue and may be given immediately to the recipient or stored until the time of transplantation.

The donor should fully recover from the procedure in just a few days. Soreness or pain at the incision site is the most common problem and this can usually be treated with pain relievers. There may also be some minor stiffness or bruising. Though uncommon, a mild infection at the incision site or minor blood loss is also possible. Within a few weeks, the donor’s body will produce new marrow to replace that which was donated.

Click here for more information about how to become a donor to transplant patients in need.

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About Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation

The Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation, founded in 1992, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for cancer and transplant patients and their families by providing vital financial assistance, comprehensive resources, educational information, physician referrals, and emotional support programs. The Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation is the only organization of its kind that does not limit assistance to a specific disease, type of transplant, or age range. All of the Foundation’s programs and services are offered to patients and their families free of charge.

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