Stem Cells

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The Donation Process

With You Every Step of the Way

We are committed to ensuring you have a safe, efficient and rewarding donor experience. The following information guides you through what happens before, during and after your donation. Don’t hesitate to contact us at any time if you have questions or concerns.

We take no chances

If you’re found to be a potential match, we will contact you. With the guidance of a registered nurse—your case manager—you’ll go through a comprehensive health assessment before you donate to make sure you can safely proceed and that your health background does not pose a risk to the patient. The nurse performs this assessment over the phone.


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A physician conducts a thorough physical assessment at the nearest collection centre—the hospital where you will donate your stem cells—and you’ll also be tested to confirm that you have no infectious diseases. Once you are confirmed as medically eligible and you agree to proceed, the patient will be notified and will start his or her pre-transplant treatments.

Two kinds of donation

Depending on the treatment selected for the patient, you will donate either peripheral stems cells or bone marrow stem cells:

Two Kinds of Donations
Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) Donation Bone Marrow Stem Cell Donation

PBSC Donation

With PBSC collection, your blood is drawn through a needle in a non-surgical procedure done at the hospital. After the stem cells are separated from the blood, the rest is returned back to your body through another needle. To increase the number of blood stem cells in your bloodstream, you will receive daily under-the-skin injections of granulocyte colony stimulated factor (G-CSF) for five days before the donation.

Risks: Bone and muscle pain are the most common side effects of G-CSF. These are relieved with over-the-counter medication. Some donors may experience nausea, a tingling feeling or chills during the collection procedure as well as fatigue, headaches, low-grade fever or discomfort at the injection site. Side effects are usually mild to moderate and short in duration.

Since the collection of stem cells using this method is relatively new, it is unknown what the long-term side effects (more than ten years) of the drug used to stimulate the production of stem cells are.

Bone Marrow Donation

This is a surgical procedure performed under anesthesia. Hollow needles withdraw stem cells from your bone marrow from the back of your pelvic bones. The procedure lasts 45 to 90 minutes.

Risks: There are some risks associated with anesthesia similar to other surgical procedures. Serious side effects from anesthesia are rare: common ones include sore throat, mild nausea and vomiting.

Risks associated with bone marrow donation include infection, pain or numbness in a leg, bleeding at the donation site, bruising and lower back discomfort. Most donors recover well and are back to their normal routine within several days.

However you donate, your case manager will be in frequent contact with you until you are completely recovered.


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Stay in touch

A life-saving stem cell transplant can only proceed if we are able to locate a matching donor. It is critically important that you let us know when your contact information changes. This can be done by logging into your account or by calling us toll free at 1 888 2 DONATE to provide your new address and telephone number. We also appreciate being advised if your health status changes, as it may affect your eligibility to donate.

A long-term commitment

It may be days, weeks, months or even years before you get the call to become a donor—which is why it’s important to be prepared to commit for the long term.

"I joined OneMatch in 1999 when I was 21 years old.  I have been called twice to help save a life; the second time was 13 years after I joined.  You never know when you will be needed. Despite being a small business owner leading hectic life, I did not hesitate to help.  If it was someone in my family, I would only hope someone would be there for them."

Mohamed, New Market, Ontario, Stem Cell Donor

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