There are two ways to donate stem cells.

Peripheral stem cell collection (the most common method; 90% of donors donate this way) This is to donate stem cells from the circulating blood. Four days preceeding the donation a nurse will inject you with a drug which vastly increases the number of stem cells in you circulating blood. On the fifth day you will have a blood test to check that you have enough circulating stem cells. You will then be connected to a cell-separator machine, without the use for a general anaesthetic. The machine collects the stem cells from your blood via a vein in one arm, returning the blood to your body through a vein in your other arm. Occasionally you may be asked back on the sixth day for a further donation, if the dose of cells obtained is not sufficient.

Bone Marrow collection which involves the removal of stem cells from you hip bones. This is done using a needle and syringe under a general anaesthetic in hospital. Although this is not a surgical operation, there will be marks on the skin made by the needle. As there may be some discomfort where the needle has been inserted, you will need to stay in hospital for up to 48 hours and have a period of recovery at home of up to five days.



Stem cell donation is very safe. However, no medical procedure is entirely without risk. Both forms of stem cell collection mentioned on this website involve some temporary discomfort in you bones and any small risks involved will be fully explained before you donate.



Whenever a patient with blood cancer or a blood disorder needs a lifesaving stem cell transplant, the world wide register are searched, to look for someone who is a genetic match for that patient.  If you’re found to be a match, the UK Stem Cell Registry will contact you, asking for you to donate if you are healthy and happy to do so.



ACLT work with three stem cell registries in the UK to recruit potential stem cell donors who are aged 16 – 55 in good health and reside in the UK.

  • If you are aged between 16 and 30 you can join the Anthony Nolan register by providing a saliva sample.
  • If you are aged between 17 and 55 you can join the register via the DKMS process which requires you to provide a cheek swab.
  • If you are aged between 18 and 49 you can join the British Bone Marrow Register by providing a blood donation at your local blood donor centre.

When joining the stem cell register in one of the three ways above, please ensure to select ACLT as your reason for registering.



  • You can also join the stem cell register by visiting ACLT offices; 2A Garnet Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey, CR7 8RD, Between 10.00am – 4.30pm – please call the office on 020 3757 7700 to make an appointment.
  • Or you could attend one of the many events where we host registration drives. View our events page (click HERE) and pick an OPEN TO PUBLIC event convenient to you to attend.

If you are pregnant, you can also help save a life by donating your baby’s umbilical cord. Please contact the NHS Blood & Transplant National Referral Centre on 0800 432 0559

Whichever route you join the stem cell register, you’ll stay on it until your 61st birthday.



Don’t worry. We know you will be disappointed, but don’t frown too much – there are lots of other ways you can get involved with our lifesaving work.