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January 16 2014

Individuals donating blood stem cells do not report any difference in long-term experiences when donating blood stem cells from bone marrow compared to stem cells from circulating blood, according to a study published this month in the Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation (BBMT).

Conducted by the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN), the pre-specified subgroup analysis included 332 individuals who donated bone marrow or circulating peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs), two blood stem cell collection processes used by doctors today. Donated cells are used in unrelated transplants for patients with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.

Donors were interviewed before their procedures about their general health and expectations. Those results were later compared with their responses 48 hours after donation, weekly until fully recovered, and at six and 12 months after the procedure.

While the short-term side effects resulting from the two procedures differed somewhat-with bone marrow donors reporting more bone and muscle aches in the first week-there were no statistically significant differences in overall physical or psychological status at six months post-donation.

The BMT CTN-a federally funded collaboration between transplant centers throughout the United States and Canada, the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/ Be The Match®,  its research program, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®), and the EMMES Corporation-performed the prospective, longitudinal study to determine the health-related quality of life impact on unrelated marrow and PBSC donors, and how each was affected comparatively.

"These study results are crucial, because donors need to feel confident about their own health and safety when they are asked to potentially save someone else's life," said to Dennis Confer, M.D., chief medical officer for the NMDP/Be The Match and associate scientific director for CIBMTR. "Donors can now know that regardless of which procedure they are asked to undergo, they are not taking on a greater risk. This is especially important as we see an increase in requests for the surgical bone marrow donation procedure."

Approximately 75 percent of unrelated blood stem cell donations are accomplished through PBSC donation and 25 percent are accomplished through marrow donation. Doctors choose the cell source that is best for the patient receiving the cells for transplant.

Visit to access the study abstract.

Additional research and information from the NMDP/Be The Match and its research program, CIBMTR, can be found on the recently launched clinical site

About the BMT CTN

The Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN) was established because of a critical need for multi-institutional clinical trials focused directly on improving survival for patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Since 2001, the BMT CTN has opened more than 27 multi-institutional phase II and III trials, involved more than 100 transplant centers, and enrolled nearly 6,000 patients to participate on trials.

BMT CTN is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is a collaborative effort of 20 Core Transplant Centers/Consortia, the NMDP/Be The Match and its research arm CIBMTR, and the EMMES Corporation. Collectively, CIBMTR, NMDP/Be The Match and EMMES serve as the BMT CTN Data and Coordinating Center to provide administrative, statistical, scientific, and informatics support to all BMT CTN activities. The CIBMTR is a combined research program of the Medical College of Wisconsin and the NMDP/Be The Match.

More information about the BMT CTN can be found at


Kirsten Lesak-Greenberg
212-421-8320 / 763-300-9254