STEM CELL DONATION
The best chance of survival for someone living with blood cancer or a blood disorder, is for a matched donor to donate their stem cells. A genetic stem cell match could be the last option to save someone’s life. If you’re on this page because you’d like to register to become a lifesaver for someone in desperate need, thank you.
What is stem cell donation?
Stem cell donation, also called peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, is a nonsurgical procedure. It helps patients with blood cancer or a blood disorder who need a lifesaving stem cell transplant. Donations take place at blood centres or outpatient hospital facilities.
What happens when I register?
The registration process includes completing a short application form and giving 2 or 3 cheek swabs. The cheek swabs allow the donor registries to determine your stem cell type. Once you’re registered, the UK Stem Cell Registry will look to see if you match with a patient.
Justin registered in 2005 due to a campaign for DJ Swing. A few years later, he gave a complete stranger a second chance of life by donating his Bone marrow.
How are stem cells donated?
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 preceding the donation a nurse will inject you with a drug which vastly increases the number of stem cells in your 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 anesthetic. 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. This involves the removal of stem cells from your hip bones. This is done using a needle and syringe under a general anesthetic 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.
Things to remember:
There are three stem cell registers in the UK that you can join. Whichever you choose, you’ll be registered until your 60th birthday.
Please make sure you select ACLT as your reason for registering when signing up. This is important because it allows us to track the number of signups that come through our charity.
Anthony Nolan: if you are aged between 16 and 30 you can join this register by providing cheek swabs.
DKMS: if you are aged between 17 and 55 you can join this register by providing cheek swabs.
British Bone Marrow Register: if you are aged between 17 and 40 you can join this register by providing a blood donation.
Other ways to register
- By appointment: you can register in person at the ACLT offices at 2A Garnet Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey, CR7 8RD. Please make an appointment in advance by calling +44 (0) 203 757 7700 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- At a registration drive: come along to a registration drive and we’ll register in person. Check the public registration drive dates in advance.
- If you are pregnant: you can help save a life by donating your baby’s umbilical cord. Please contact the NHS Blood & Transplant National Referral Centre on +44 (0) 800 432 0559.
For more information about joining the stem cell register, please check our ‘all questions answered’ page here.
“Information included taken and adapted from NHS Blood & Transplant”