You probably have a few questions about what it takes to save a life. We get it, we’d have them too. Let’s talk about what you’ve heard and what’s really involved with donating.
We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions below.
You may have heard that surgery is required.
80% of donations involve no surgery at all.
For most donors, it’s a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation which is similar to donating plasma. The other 20% of the time is a bone marrow donation which involves outpatient surgery under anesthesia—meaning no pain during it and going home the same day.
You may have heard donating is really painful.
Discomfort and side effects vary from person to person.
The most common side effects of a blood stem cell donation are headaches, nausea and tiredness from the daily shots for five days before it. For donors who have the outpatient surgery to donate marrow, there’s no pain during it and most say they feel sore or achy for a few days after.
You may be thinking patients are the only priority.
THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF BOTH OUR PATIENTS AND DONORS IS OUR MAIN FOCUS.
You’ll have a personal donor representative to answer any questions you have and we’ll follow up with you before, during and after donation. You’ve signed up to save someone’s life and we don’t take that lightly. We’re here to listen to you and make sure your needs are heard and met every step of the way.
You may be wondering if your donation really helps someone.
YOUR DONATION MATTERS. ESPECIALLY TO SOMEONE WHO LOOKS LIKE YOU.
Finding a match is complex. It’s based on matching certain markers found on most of the cells in your body and because it’s inherited, you’re most likely to match with someone who shares your ethnicity. You may be the only person on the registry that can help a specific patient who’s fighting a life-threatening illness like leukemia or sickle cell disease.
African American patients have only a 29% chance of finding a match.
Hispanic patients have only a 46% chance of finding a match.
You may be wondering where your donation goes and what we do with it.
IT GOES ONLY TO your patient.
Right after you donate, a trained courier safely takes your cells to the patient’s hospital for the transplant.
You may be thinking this goes against your family’s religious or cultural beliefs.
DONATING BLOOD STEM CELLS OR MARROW IS DIFFERENT THAN DONATING AN ORGAN.
You can donate and still stay true to your culture and beliefs. Plus, by doing so you could potentially be saving someone’s life.
The best way to find out is to hear from people who have done it.
You may be wondering how much work or school you’ll miss.
IT TAKES A FEW HOURS A WEEK FOR A FEW WEEKS.
Between phone calls, appointments and the donation itself—it typically takes about 20-30 hours total over a four-to-six-week period. About 60% of the time donors don’t need to travel during the process.
You may have heard it’s a long recovery.
MOST DONORS GO HOME THE SAME DAY.
Some feel a little more sore or tired than normal for about a week after donating, but most say they’re back to their regular lives within just a few days. Plus, donating doesn’t weaken your own body or immune system.
You may have heard you have to pay for the donation costs.
It costs you nothing to donate.
All of your medical and travel costs are covered. We can also help cover any lost wages due to donation. Plus, your insurance is not involved with the process at all.
You may be wondering if it affects having kids in the future.
DONATING DOESN’T IMPACT YOUR ABILITY TO HAVE KIDS.
There’s no evidence of negative effects on male or female fertility following donation. But like with any medical treatment or procedure, female donors hoping to become pregnant soon after donating should talk to their doctors.
You may be thinking your family won’t support your decision to donate.
TALKING TO YOUR LOVED ONES ABOUT DONATION CAN BE HARD—WE’RE HERE TO HELP.
Be sure to explain what’s involved and how saving someone’s life is something you can all be part of together. GET TIPS FOR TALKING WITH YOUR PARENTS >
Connect with other members and hear from patients whose lives have been saved because of people like you.
For people with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry®, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant. Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research through its research program, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®), so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.