Giving Stem Cells Is Easy: It Doesn’t Hurt, Saves Lives
When a patient compatible with the tissue group of the person registered in the stem cell donor pool is found, the registered person is contacted. Stem cells are collected if volunteering continues. People who are unaware of how stem cells are collected, cease to be donors most often appear in this period. For this reason, we recommend that you read what we write below carefully.
We regret to see that many donors still have some questions in their minds and those who do not get clear answers to these questions cease to be donors, although we try to provide as much information as possible in the media in order to be a stem cell donor and to give stem cells after they become a donor.
Therefore, in this article, we will try to briefly explain how the stem cell delivery process is done, Giving Stem Cells Is Easy whether it hurts or not, and whether any complications or side effects are seen in the form of frequently asked questions. We recommend that you read the article to the end.
Let’s start with stem cell and stem cell transplantation first.
What is a stem cell?
Stem cells; are cells that have the capacity and potential to regenerate, create, reproduce, differentiate and transform into other cells. For the correct definition of a stem cell, 2 properties must be present. These:
Being able to renew yourself,
It is infinite renewal capacity.
Hematopoietic stem cells, ie “bone marrow stem cells” are known as multipotent stem cells. They can only produce cells that are closely related to their cell group. For example, when bone marrow stem cells are transplanted into a patient, they produce red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, which are coagulation cells.
What is a Stem Cell Transplant?
It is a procedure used in the treatment of many benign and malignant diseases thanks to the settlement and proliferation of hematopoietic stem cells taken from a completely healthy person and given to the patient by completely eliminating the bone marrow of the patient.
Currently, stem cell transplantation is most commonly used in the treatment of leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, known as hematological cancers. Apart from these, it is also applied in the treatment of various organ cancers, bone marrow insufficiency diseases (aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndrome), hereditary (congenital) anemia, immune system deficiencies, and hereditary metabolic diseases.
Who Can Be a Stem Cell Donor?
Between the ages of 18 and 50 and accepts every healthy person weighing at least 50 kg is a stem cell donor. Candidates who want to be volunteer stem cell donors should not have immune system diseases and infectious diseases.
How to Become a Stem Cell Donor?
For this, firstly, approximately 10 ccs (3 tubes) of blood is taken from donor candidates. If no disease is detected, the tissue type is determined and your information is transferred to the bone marrow bank.
If it is determined that you are in compliance with one of the patients who applied to the bone marrow bank and waiting for a transplant, you will be contacted and your donation method (blood stem cell collection method or bone marrow collection method) is selected. Subsequently, your suitability for the procedure is determined after your physical examination and laboratory evaluation, depending on the continuity of your volunteer status.
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: HOW AND WHERE ARE STEM CELLS COLLECTED?
When a patient compatible with the tissue group of the person registered in the stem cell donor pool is found, the registered person is contacted. Stem cells are collected if the volunteering situation continues. People who are unaware of how stem cells are collected, cease to be donors most often appear in this period. For this reason, we recommend that you read what we write below carefully.
Stem cells are collected either from the blood or from the bone marrow. Today, the most common collection method is in the form of stem cells taken from blood. Stem cell harvesting from the bone marrow is used in very few diseases. Therefore, if your tissue group is found compatible with a patient, most likely your stem cells will be collected from your blood vessels easily.
Stem cell collection from blood
Before stem cell collection, a vaccine (Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor = G-CSF) is administered to the donor under the skin (usually applied to the area between the shoulder and arm) for about 5 days, bypassing the stem cells from the bone marrow into the blood and allowing them to reproduce in the blood. As seen in the photo below, the stem cell donor is connected to a device similar to a dialysis machine, namely the apheresis device, through one of the large vessels in both arms. The apheresis device takes blood from a vein in one arm and separates the stem cells and leaves them in a blood bag, the remaining blood is returned to the donor from the vein in the other arm. It is not a painful procedure in any way. Surgery conditions are not required. The donor is always conscious. He can talk, chat or watch television. The process takes about 1.5-2 hours. There is no significant side effect. The most common side effect is a slight drop in blood pressure. The vaccine made to increase stem cells does not have very important side effects. The most common side effect is flu-like complaints.
Stem cell harvesting from bone marrow
It is used very, very little. Stem cell collection from the bone marrow is usually performed under general anesthesia with the help of a special needle by entering the donor’s hip bone once. No pain is felt during the procedure. The process is completed in about 1 hour. If the donor does not have a predisposition to bleeding, there is no risk of bleeding. Before the procedure, examinations are made for this.
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