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Frequently Asked Questions

What is stem cell or bone marrow donation?

 Hematopoietic (“blood forming”) stem cells are the progenitor cells for blood cells, and are different from embryonic stem cells. They are found in the bone marrow or blood stream, so the terms “stem cell transplant” and “bone marrow transplant” are used interchangeably. However, it is increasingly rare to collect stem cells from the bone marrow. Now, up to 90% of the time, the stem cells are collected from the blood stream by apheresis, the same way platelets are donated.

Why should I become a donor?

Many people only begin to think about being a donor when someone in their family or a close friend needs a transplant. But why wait? Every day, there are people searching desperately for a match. Most people who receive bone marrow transplants receive them from strangers. You have the power to save someone’s life!

Who is eligible to donate?

 We recruit healthy donors from 18-45. The reason our age limit is so low is that transplant centers strongly prefer younger donors. If you are over 45, you can still play an important role! Our registry is 100% volunteer run and we depend on the financial donations of people like you to continue our work to save lives.

How do I become a donor?

First you need to join the Registry, which involves giving either a saliva or blood sample at one of our donor recruitment drives. We send the sample to a laboratory for HLA testing, and store the data on our registry. Your information is always kept confidential. If your HLA type matches that of a patient in need – you may be called upon to donate. Your information will remain in our records until you are 60 years old, or unless you change your mind. Donating is always voluntary.

Joining the registry is easy! All it takes is a few minutes – and a cotton swab in the mouth.

Does it hurt to donate?

There are two ways  to donate your BLOOD STEM CELLS. Through your MARROW OR through BLOOD

1) Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation harvests the stem cells from the blood and not directly from the bone itself. PBSC is the most common method, used in 90% of cases. You may feel muscle aches for the 4-5 days then after the excess stem cells are collected, donors have reported feeling no symptoms 30 minutes to an hour after.

2) Only very rarely, stem cells are extracted from the bone marrow. This is most often to help sick children as they experience a higher success rate from marrow transplants as opposed to blood stem cells. For marrow donation, local or general anesthesia will be used so there is no pain when the marrow is collected. There will be some soreness in the lower back area afterwards, and most donors can go about their daily activities the following day. Bone marrow COMPLETELY regenerates.

A small price to pay for knowing that you have saved a life!

Why does ethnicity matter?

Because marrow matches are made using a chromosone called an HLA match (human leukocyte antigen), every patient’s best possibility of finding a match is within their own ethnic group. Since Nigeria is home to one-quarter of Africa’s population, with almost 400 distinct ethnic groups, it is an ideal place for a bone marrow registry.

Special thanks to MarrowDrives.org for providing some of the information used on this page.