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Process of Stem Cell Donation: How It’s Done?

Process of Stem Cell Donation

The process of gathering the cells that will be implanted into a patient is referred to as a bone marrow harvest or peripheral blood stem cell harvest. It can also be referred to as a bone marrow or stem cell apheresis.

After high-dose chemotherapy for cancer, stem cells are infused to restore bone marrow function and produce blood cells. Previously, stem cells were taken from bone marrow, but now many centers collect them from peripheral blood. Before chemotherapy, the patient’s own stem cells are collected and frozen for storage. There are also methods to remove cancer cells and boost immune cells in the stem cell collection to treat the cancer. We will explore in this blog post how the procedure is carried out.

What is a Stem Cell?

A stem cell or bone marrow transplantation is a procedure that replaces impaired blood cells with healthy ones. This treatment is effective in addressing various blood cell-related conditions, including leukemia and lymphoma. Stem cells, which are unique cells generated by the bone marrow (a spongy tissue located in the core of certain bones), possess the ability to differentiate into diverse blood cell types.

There are three primary forms of blood cells that they have the potential to develop into:

– erythrocytes, which transport oxygen throughout the body

– leukocytes, which aid in combating infections

– thrombocytes, which assist in preventing bleeding

A stem cell transplantation necessitates the eradication of any diseased blood cells and the introduction of stem cells obtained from either the blood or bone marrow.

Stem Cell Donation Process

The stem cell donation process are mainly done and collected in two primary ways i.e. Peripheral Blood Stem Cells Collection and Bone marrow harvesting.

Peripheral Blood Stem Cells Collection:

To proceed with Stem Cell Donation, the primary requirement is that the donor must be the most suitable match for the patient, as determined by the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Typing Test. Additionally, the donor must also meet the necessary medical criteria in order to be eligible for donation.

The process of PBSC (Stem Cell) Donation Involves Several Steps:

Step 1: It is a procedure that does not require surgery and is performed in an outpatient hospital facility. During this procedure, the donor’s blood is extracted using a catheter, which is a thin and flexible plastic tube. The blood is then circulated into a blood cell separator machine known as the Stem Cell Apheresis Device.

Step 2: The Stem Cell Apheresis Device filters out the stem cells from the donor’s blood and transfers them to a collection bag. The remaining components of the blood, such as plasma, red blood cells, and platelets, are injected back into the donor using another catheter.

Step 3: The collected stem cells are preserved and later infused into the patient after several hours. This is done as part of the Bone Marrow Transplant procedure to treat the patients.

Step 4: The process of PBSC (Stem Cell) donation is a straightforward procedure. The donor is required to be admitted to the hospital for just one day, during which the procedure takes approximately 6-8 hours. It is necessary to stay in India for only one week. Rest assured, this procedure is completely safe and free of any risks.

Step 5: Following the donation of Stem Cells, the donor may experience slight discomfort at the site where the needle was inserted. However, this discomfort will gradually subside. A nurse will regularly monitor your condition during the donation process, and a physician will be present on-site.

Helpful: Bone Marrow Transplant Cost in India

Bone Marrow Harvesting

Bone marrow serves as a source of stem cells, particularly for children and patients undergoing Allogenic bone marrow transplants to treat benign hematological disorders. 

  • The harvesting process takes place in an operating room under general anesthesia, with minimal risk and discomfort involved. The bone marrow is typically obtained from the posterior superior iliac spine using harvesting needles. 
  • To expedite the collection process and reduce anesthesia time, two physicians usually harvest bone marrow from both sides simultaneously. 
  • Multiple skin and bone punctures are necessary to extract the required amount of bone marrow, but no surgical incisions or stitches are involved, only skin punctures at the needle insertion sites.
  • The quantity of bone marrow obtained is determined by the patient’s size and the concentration of bone marrow cells in the donor’s blood. 
  • Typically, the healthcare in care can collect 15 – 20 ml/kg (based on the donor’s weight) of bone marrow. Although this may seem like a significant amount, it actually only represents approximately 2% of a person’s total bone marrow, which the body replenishes within four weeks.

After the effects of anesthesia wear off, the donor may experience slight heaviness or pain at the harvesting site, which can usually be managed with Acetaminophen (Paracetamol). In the case of an autologous transplant, the harvested bone marrow will be cryopreserved and stored at a temperature ranging from -80 to -196 degrees centigrade until the day of the transplant.

Also Read: About Bone Marrow Transplant

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