|Facts and Myths|
Facts and Myths - from www.OneMatch.ca
Myth: Stem cell donation is painful.
Fact: Canadian Blood Services facilitates two types of procedures - stem cell donation from bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell donation. For bone marrow donation, the collection of stem cells is taken from the iliac crest and this type of procedure is done under general anaesthetic so the donor experiences no pain. For peripheral blood stem cell donation, the collection is a non-surgical procedure done in an outpatient clinic and does not involve anaesthetic. The donor does not experience pain during either procedure. Currently about 90% of stem cell donations come from peripheral blood and 10% from bone marrow.
Myth: Stem cells are taken from the spinal cord.
Fact: The donor’s spinal cord is unaffected in the collection of stem cells. For a bone marrow donation, the collection of the stem cells is taken from the iliac crest, which sits at the back of the pelvic bone. The day-procedure takes place under general anaesthesia. Peripheral blood stem cell donation involves removing a donor’s blood through a sterile needle in one arm. The blood is passed through a machine that separates out the stem cells used in transplantation. The remaining blood is returned to the donor’s body through the other arm very similar to platelet donation. The patient’s doctor will decide what type of donation is best for the patient.
Myth: If I donate stem cells, they cannot be replaced.
Fact: The body replaces the stem cells within six weeks. After donating, most donors are back to their usual routine in a few days.
Myth: Stem cell donation involves a lengthy recovery process.
Fact: Bone marrow donors can expect to feel some soreness in their lower back. Donors have likened it to the same soreness one gets if he/she were to slip and fall on ice. There have also been reports of donors feeling tired and having some discomfort walking for a couple of days or longer. Most donors are back to their usual routine in a few days. Some may take a few weeks before they feel completely recovered. Peripheral blood stem cell donors report varying symptoms including headache, bone or muscle pain, nausea, insomnia and fatigue. These effects disappear shortly after donating.
Myth: Like finding a blood donor, it is easy to find a stem cell donor.
Fact: A perfect bone marrow match isn’t always available. In fact, in extreme cases, the odds of a match may be as little as one in 750,000 or less. The goal of searching bone marrow registries is to find the best available unrelated matches, giving patients the greatest possible chance of a positive outcome. And the only way to find these matches is to search a large pool of potential donors with varied ethnic and racial backgrounds. One of Canadian Blood Services’ priorities is to increase the ethnic diversity of the Registry by encouraging people of varying ethnic origins to consider volunteering to donate bone marrow.
Myth: I come from a large family, so if I ever need a stem cell transplant, I should have no problem finding a match within my family.
Fact: The requirements for finding a match are so precise that only about 25% of those in need can receive a transplant from someone in their own family. That is why we maintain the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network - a network of Canadians who are ready to donate to any patient in need.
Myth: Stem cell transplants can only treat leukemia.
Fact: A wide variety of diseases and disorders are treated with stem cell transplants, including blood-related diseases, such as leukemia and aplastic anemia, as well as immune system and metabolic disorders.
Myth: Everyone can join the stem cell registry.
Fact: Currently the minimum age for donation is 17 as current medical information tells us that 17 is the earliest age to safely donate. We have this regulation in place because the safety of the donor is extremely important to us.