Guide To Understanding Bone Marrow

Bone Marrow Donation

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Bone marrow donation can help save the lives of patients with blood cancers and other conditions that require a bone marrow transplant. Individuals who wish to donate bone marrow can join a national registry by submitting a mouth swab. If an individual on the registry is identified as a potential match for a patient in need, they will have blood tests to determine if their bone marrow would be the most appropriate match for the patient. If selected as a donor, patients will undergo a physical examination before the donation procedure. Bone marrow can be donating using surgical and non-surgical methods, and doctors decide which method is best for the recipient's needs. Most bone marrow donors complete the process using peripheral blood stem cell donation. For five days before their donation, donors receive daily injections of filgrastim to increase the number of blood-producing cells in the bloodstream. On the donation day, the donor will have one needle placed in each arm; each needle is connected to a tube that carries blood into a machine. The donor's blood is removed through the first needle. It travels into the machine that collects the blood-forming cells. The rest of the blood is returned to the donor through the second needle. This donation method may take up to eight hours, and ninety percent of donations performed in this way only require one session. The other method for bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia. During the operation, doctors remove liquid bone marrow from the pelvic bone.

Learn about bone marrow diseases next.

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Emily Fowler
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