What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Bone marrow donation

Collecting stem cells from bone marrow is a type of surgery and is done in the operating room. You will be given anesthesia for the procedure. Needles will be inserted through the skin and into the bone to draw the marrow out of the bone. This process usually takes one to two hours.

After the bone marrow is collected, you will be taken to the recovery room while the anesthesia wears off. You may then be taken to a hospital room where the nursing staff can keep an eye on you. When you're fully alert and able to eat and drink, you'll be released from the hospital.

Peripheral blood stem cell donation

If blood stem cells are going to be collected directly from your blood, you will be given injections of a medication to stimulate production of blood stem cells so that more of them are circulating in your bloodstream. The medication is usually started several days before you're going to donate.

During the donation, blood is taken out through a catheter in a vein in your arm. The blood is sent through a machine that takes out the stem cells. The rest of the blood is then returned to you through a vein in your other arm. This process is called apheresis. It takes two to six hours and is done as an outpatient procedure. You'll typically undergo two to four apheresis sessions, depending on how many blood stem cells are needed.

After the procedure

Recovery times vary depending on the individual and type of donation. But most blood stem cell donors are able to return to their usual activities within a few days to a week after donation.

May 30, 2014