Donate bone marrow, why it is important and what is the procedure


Donating bone marrow is as important as donating blood. However, many people are unaware of how the procedure is believed to be very painful. For this reason, despite the fact that in recent years the number of donors has increased 70% Thanks to awareness campaigns, there must be even more donors.

A bone marrow transplant becomes, in some cases, the only way to cure leukemia.. Every year, in Spain 5,839 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer. Among them, there are many children waiting for the number of donors to increase so that the chances of saving are greater. Finding a compatible cord is not easy. Therefore, a greater number of donations is necessary.

Leukemia is not the only disease that needs bone marrow donors. The people that have lymphoma, myelodysplasia or multiple myeloma, as well as those that have been diagnosed with diseases such as aplastic or sickle cell anemia also benefit from these donations.

Is it painful to donate bone marrow?

Donating bone marrow is as painful as donating blood. In fact, very few people know, but there are two forms of donation. From the Josep Carreras Foundation they explain the following:

  • Peripherally blood: It is the usual procedure for bone marrow donation. This consists in obtaining "peripheral blood stem cells after the administration of 4-5 subcutaneous injections of agents (…) that pass the stem cells from the cord to the bloodstream."
  • Bone marrow: This procedure requires general or epidural anesthesia, and the donor must be hospitalized for 24 hours. "Medullary blood is extracted from the iliac crests (posterior-superior part of the pelvis) using punctures." This is only necessary in 20% of cases.

Both in one type of donation and in the other, the procedure is not painful. In fact, in the bone marrow the donor is anesthetized, so that at no time will you feel any discomfort. However, the most frequent method is that of peripheral blood.

How to become a bone marrow donor?

To be a bone marrow donor it is recommended to be between 18 and 55 years old. The reason is, as the Donor's Guide, in which "the younger the donor is, the better results". Of course, you should not have any disease or health problem that makes you unfit to donate marrow.

After meeting these requirements, you must complete the online registration form corresponding to the autonomous community in which you want to donate. Those centers closest to the usual residence will appear on the website.

For this, the National Transplant Organization (ONT) shows a reference list on its website. Nevertheless, You cannot be a bone marrow donor if you suffer from any of the following problems that are collected in the Donor's Guide:

  • Uncontrolled arterial hypertension
  • Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.
  • Cardiovascular, pulmonary, hepatic or hematological diseases.
  • Malignant or autoimmune tumor diseases.
  • Hepatitis B or C virus infection.
  • Carrier of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (AIDS).
  • Have platelet counts of less than 120,000 ml.
  • Being pregnant or nursing.
  • Receive lithium treatments.

After registering, if all is well, will be informed through an SMS that is already a bone marrow donor. From that moment on, the donor will be available when searching for compatible marrow.

How often can marrow be donated?

When someone needs a bone marrow donation, those compatible donors are contacted. After undergoing the peripheral blood or bone marrow procedure, as appropriate, It will be a few weeks before donors can donate again.

According to the Josep Carrera Foundation, if the patient receiving the donation may require a second, the chosen donor will be "reserved" and he will not donate to anyone else so that he can be prepared to donate marrow to the same patient in a short period of time if he needs it.

Of course, the Foundation makes it clear that If the donor has a family member who needs his marrow, he can donate it without any problem. It is a situation that is contemplated and in which there is no obstacle.

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