Bone Marrow Donation

Bone marrow donation

The procedure

This method is used 16% of the time. A surgical procedure which involves being placed under general anaesthetic. A special needle and syringe is placed into the pelvic bone cavity (back of the hip) to withdraw the bone marrow. Ouch sounds painful! But you won't feel it at the time and the dull aches you feel afterwards usually fade away within a few days and are helped with taking a paracetamol like Panadol. Your body will also replenish the bone marrow that was taken within 4 weeks so you do not lost any part of you. The procedure takes about 1 to 2 hours to complete, sometimes it is booked in for a same-day stay or in some cases an overnight stay, so you can usually return home the same or next day. This process is rarely used today. 

There are no costs to you to donate your bone marrow. All that is asked of you is your time and commitment. There are forms and questionnaires you will need to fill in and some routine tests, your donor centre coordinator will give you all the necessary information and you will be supported every step of the way. Your health is very important and your medical team will never put you through a procedure if they believe you are not healthy or fit enough, all the necessary checks are done beforehand.

After the procedure

You may feel some pain in the lower back of the hip region, much like a dull ache. This can be helped with paracetamol such as Panadol and normally wears off after a few days. Most people are back to doing their regular activities in that time. 

What happens next?

Your stem cells will be sent off to save your matching patient’s life! 

Something that is so simple means the world to the patient and their family! You will be very proud of yourself and it will no doubt be an experience that can not only save a life but also change yours.

Click here for a short video of patients and donors meeting, it's inspirational, heartwarming and moving. It gives you an idea of that uplifting feeling you will have knowing that you may have saved a life!

More information:

Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) website 

Download the ABMDR enrolment brochure here

ABMDR eligibility criteria (find out if you are eligible to join the registry)


"Saying thank you to my donor just does not seem to be enough. I am alive today because of them. Because they made that decision all those years ago to join the registry - for that I am truly grateful."
- Pamela, cancer survivor