What's involved if you are a match

How does the bone marrow get taken out?

There are 2 ways in which your bone marrow/stem cells may be extracted.

There are no costs to you except your time and commitment. There are forms and questionnaires you will need to fill in first 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.

Click here for common questions about donating your stem cells.

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!


Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation (PBSC donation) 

This method is used 84% of the time.

A non-surgical procedure where your bone marrow is stimulated to a point that allows the stem cells to overflow out of the bone marrow and into your bloodstream, ready to be collected! All you need to do at this point is sit in a chair with a needle in one arm like in a blood donation, which takes out your blood to be processed through a special "Apheresis" machine. This machine will separate your stem cells from the rest of your blood cells, it will store the stem cells and return back your other cells through another needle in your other arm. You do not lose any part of you because it is your excess stem cells that are collected. Click to learn more about the PBSC method.

"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

Click to enlarge picture

Bone Marrow Donation

This method is used 16% of the time.

A surgical procedure which normally 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 paracetamol like Panadol. Your body will also replenish the bone marrow that was taken so you do not lost any part of you. The procedure takes about 1 to 2 hours to complete and you can usually return home the same or next day. This process is rarely used today. Click to learn more about bone marrow donation.

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