There are two ways of collecting bone marrow cells: from the bones of the pelvis, and from the blood by apheresis.
Why two ways of collections ?
Intra-bone collection of bone marrow makes possible to obtain, at the same time, haematopoietic stem cells and their surrounding environment. Collection by apheresis allows to collect large quantities of haematopoietic stem cells. The physician proposes the most appropriate form of collection according to the benefit expected for the patient.
Collection from the bones of the pelvis
Bone marrow is collected from the bones of the back of the pelvis under general anaesthetic (in perfectly sterile conditions). This simple procedure requires a hospitalization of approximately 48 hours, and involves no risk of paralysis. The bone marrow is quickly replaced. The collected volume is calculated according to the weight of the donor and that of the recipient. Apart from the usual risks associated with any form of anaesthesia and the extremely remote risk of infection or trauma at the sites of injection, donating bone marrow not dangerous. Collection is carried out only after checking and double-checking the fitness of the donor.
Collection by apheresis
Bone marrow cells are collected from the blood. A few days before the collection, the donor receives, via subcutaneous injections, a drug (identical to the substance produced naturally by the body to regulate the level of white blood cells) that stimulates production of the cells and makes them pass from the bones to the blood, where they are collected from. One or two collections (each lasting 3-4 hours) are necessary, without general anaesthesia or hospitalisation.
Additional collection of lymphocytes :
In order to prevent or treat a relapse of the patient’s illness after receiving a transplant, the donor may be registered again to donate cells called lymphocytes. These cells must absolutely come from the same donor. The time between the first and the second donation varies from one case to another. This second donation only concerns a few donors. This collection by simple apheresis does not require any anaesthetic or drugs, and takes approximately three hours.
How is a collection organised ?
When you are compatible with a patient, you become essential to this patient for whom the physician has prescribed a bone marrow transplant. For this patient, whom you will never know, you will give approximately two days of your time.
The donor centre will call you to check that you fit for the donation and will organise the collection with you.
In order to ensure the safety of the donation for both you and the patient, additional clinical and biological examinations are carried out. The doctors will also ask about your health in general and about aspects of your lifestyle that may affect it (particularly in case of a general anaesthesia).
The bone marrow collection is scheduled between one and three months in advance, so that you can make the necessary arrangements and organise yourself quietly.
Under the applicable legislation, all costs related to the collection are covered: costs of examinations and prescribed treatments, hospital fees, travelling expenses, non-hospital accommodation expenses and compensation for any loss of income incurred by the donor.