Surgery Is the Only Way to Donate Marrow

False! There are two methods of donation for patients in need of a transplant. The method used is selected by the patient’s doctor and is based on what the doctor feels is best for the patient at that given time.

  • 75% of the time, a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation occurs. A PBSC transplant is a nonsurgical procedure and the most common way to donate. For 5 days leading up to donation, you will be given injections of a drug called filgrastim to increase the number of cells in your bloodstream that are used for transplant. Some of your blood is then removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to you through the other arm. Click here for more information.
  • The remaining 25% of the time, a patient’s doctor performs a bone marrow donation. This operation is usually an outpatient procedure. You will receive anesthesia and feel no pain during the donation. Doctors use a needle to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of your pelvic bone.
  • Though no medical procedure is without risk, there are rarely any long-term side effects donating either PBSC or bone marrow. Your cells replenish themselves in 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Because only 1 to 5% or less of your marrow is needed to save the patient’s life, your immune system stays strong. Click here to learn more about marrow donation.