Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: What is a bone marrow and what is its function?
A: Bone marrow is the spongy tissue found in the interior of bones.  Specialized cells called Bone Marrow Stem Cells (BMSC) in the marrow  of large bones such as the hip are the source that produce red and white blood cells and platelets needed for vital functions of the body.

Q: Are these stem cells found anywhere else in the body?
A: Yes. The marrow of the bone is where these stem cells are made and reside, but a few of them leave the marrow and circulate in blood. These are called Peripheral Blood Stem Cells or PBSC.

Q: How can Bone Marrow Stem Cells help patients with blood disorders?
A: Patients with leukemia, lymphoma or similar diseases have bone marrows that are unable to make blood cells that function properly. A Bone Marrow Stem Cell transplantation replaces the malfunctioning bone marrow of the patient with the healthy bone marrow of a donor and   allows the patient to have a continuous supply of healthy and properly functioning blood cells.

Q: Why go through bone marrow stem cell transplantation? Why not replace the defective blood cells of the patient by a simple blood transfusion?
A: Because blood cells have a short life. They live and function for a few weeks, then die and are replaced with new cells from bone marrow stem cells. Replacing defective blood cells may correct the situation for a very short time. Replacing the source of blood cells, on the other hand, corrects the situation for good.

Q: What diseases can peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) transplants help with?
A: Many types of cancers as well as some genetically inherited diseases of blood cells are treated by bone marrow transplantation (BMT) or peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT)

• Leukemia

  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
  • Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Fanconi’s Anemia
  • Sickle Cell Anemia

Q: How can I help?
A:

• Become a donor—Join the registry
• Make a financial donation
• Tell your family and friends about ABMDR
• Hold a recruitment drive

Q:   What are the criteria to becoming a BMSC or PBSC donor?
A:
• You must be between the ages of 18-50
• You must be in general good health
• You must not have/ had cancer, heart disease, liver disease, HIV, AIDS, or bone marrow or organ donation.

Q:How do I join the registry?
A: Come to one of ABMDR’s recruitments and become a donor – Recruitment dates and locations are listed on our donor drive events page.

Q: What’s involved in joining?
A: Fill out a form and give us a cheek swab (Click here for details about becoming a donor)

Q: Can anyone be a donor for any patient?
A: No. Donor and patient should be compatible. They have to have matching tissue types.

Q: How are donors matched to patients?
A: Donor’s tissue sample is analyzed for a set of proteins called HLA s.  Donor and patient HLAs have to match 100% for the transplantation to be successful.’

Q: Does race or ethnicity matter?
A: Yes.  HLA type, like other features such as eye color, hair color, and skin color is inherited and therefore the patient’s chance of finding a match is greater within the patient’s ethnic group.

Q: How are stem cells donation obtained from the donor?
A:   Bone marrow stem cells are usually collected from circulating blood. This is referred to as peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) harvesting or apheresis.

Q: How is apheresis of PBSC  performed?
A: 3-4 days prior to PBSC collection, the donor is given Filgrastim to stimulate the number of stem cells released in the blood. On the day of the procedure the donor is hooked up to two IV’s, one on each arm. Blood is removed from the vein, goes through the apheresis machine, which removes and packs the excess stem cells, and returns the blood (minus the excess stem cells) via the other IV. The collected stem cells are sent to the patient for transplantation.

Q: How long does it take?
A: The procedure usually takes 3-4 hours.

Q: Will I be under anesthesia for PBSC procedure?
A: No, PBSC donation procedure does not involve surgery or anesthesia.

Q: Will I be incapacitated and for how long?
A: No, you walk away immediately after donation. Some  individuals experience a mild side effect of Filgrastim  (flu like symptoms ) that may last for a few days.

Q: Will I be in pain during or after PBSC procedure?
A: No

Q: How long will it take for my stem cells to be replenished?
A: Harvesting procedure collects a small portion of the donor’s stem cells. These are fully replaced within 7-14 days

Q: Does it cost the donor anything to become a donor?
A: No, however HLA typing cost ABMDR $50.00-$150.00, and any donations are welcomed and appreciated.

Q: Do I get paid to become a donor?
A: No, you receive the greatest reward of saving someone’s life, and knowing that you gave them and their families a second chance.

Q: Will I have to travel to the recipient’s hospital?
A: No, your stem cells will be harvested at the hospital or stem cell harvesting facility near you.

Q: What is my commitment if I join?
A:

  • You will be listed in our registry until your 55st birthday.
  • Donate to any patient who matches you
  • Inform us of if your address changes You have the right to change your mind about being a donor at any time.  If you change your mind, you need to tell us right away.   However, since it costs ABMDR money and time to register and tissue type donors, we ask that you consider your choice carefully BEFORE you commit. We will be happy to answer your questions and concerns to help you make an informed decision before you join. .

Q: How do I find out if I have already joined ABMDR?

A: Email us at abmdrla@abmdr.am