PBSC Donation

A depiction of a person donating their stem cells through the Apheresis (cell separating) machine

A depiction of a person donating their stem cells through the Apheresis (cell separating) machine

The procedure

This method is used 84% of the time. “Peripheral Blood Stem Cell” donation is a non-surgical procedure where your bone marrow is stimulated to a point that the stem cells overflow into your blood stream and these excess stem cells are then collected, much like in a blood donation. 

It is important to understand that these are your excess stem cells that are taken, that is you do not lose any part of you.

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.

"1 year before I needed a matching donor, I underwent PBSC donation as another form of treatment that the Doctors tried. I found the whole experience was fine & quite simple...& that was after several rounds of chemotherapy so my body was weak. I imagine it to be even less demanding for a healthy person to undergo the procedure". 
- Pamela, cancer survivor

Stimulating the bone marrow

To begin with you will have a small injection usually done in the fat of the tummy every day for approximately 4 days prior to the day of the collection. This is called G-CSF, it's a naturally occurring hormone and the purpose of this is to stimulate your bone marrow. The stem cells are created in large quantities in the bone marrow so the stem cells flow out into your blood stream to be collected. The short term symptoms of receiving this are mild and can be relieved with paracetamol such as Panadol. There are no long term risks. Some symptoms may include headaches, bone and muscle pain, fatigue and sometimes feeling a little under the weather. They disappear shortly after collection. 

Collecting the stem cells

After the G-CSF injections, your stem cells will be swimming strong and happy in the stream of your blood, ready to be taken out for collection to fulfill their destiny! On the day of collection you will have 2 needles, one in each arm that will be connected to an “Apheresis Machine” (see picture above). Blood will be taken out from one arm and processed through the Apheresis machine. The machine will then separate the stem cells from your blood cells. Through the other arm the blood is returned to you – without those extra stem cells! The procedure takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to perform. That’s it! You can even watch TV or a DVD during the procedure!

After the procedure

Most people can return straight to work and continue on with their normal activities.

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 amazing 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)