Bone Marrow Donation

If blood tests indicate that your body is not producing enough peripheral blood stem cells for a transplant, you may need to undergo a different procedure called bone marrow harvesting. During this surgical procedure, doctors remove stem cells inside your hipbones.

You may receive general anesthesia and be unconscious during this procedure, or you may get a spinal block or epidural that numbs you from the waist down. You and your doctor can determine the best method for your donation.

Bone marrow donation process

Bone marrow donation involves two different stages:

Bone marrow donation surgery

During donation surgery, you can expect certain steps:

  • Your doctor makes several incisions at the top of your hipbone. These incisions are less than ¼-inch long and do not require stitches.
  • Your doctor uses a syringe to draw out liquid bone marrow that contains stem cells.

Recovering from bone marrow donation

Recovery from bone marrow donation involves:

  • After surgery, you recover in our specialized Transplant Recovery Unit. This unit has filtered air to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Individual recovery times vary. In most cases, you can go home the same day.
  • You should follow your doctor’s advice about returning to work, school and everyday activities.

Risks of bone marrow donation

Serious complications from bone marrow donation are rare. Complications could include:

  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Wound infection
  • Back and hip pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Pain and bruising at the incision sites
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Bleeding that requires blood transfusions
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