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How Do I Give Bone Marrow?

A blood sample will be taken when a person registers to give bone marrow.
Three pieces of bone with the marrow in the middle.
A diagram of the anatomy of a bone, showing the bone marrow.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 August 2014
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The prognosis for several severe medical conditions can be greatly improved with an infusion of bone marrow. Bone marrow is a soft tissue found in the core of many bones of the body. This tissue contains stem cells which are capable of differentiating into an assortment of blood cells. By infusing patients with diseases like leukemia, neuroblastoma, and myeloma with these stem cells, doctors can help to treat their conditions.

Bone marrow is in great demand, especially from minority donors. If you are interested in donating bone marrow, there are a few steps to take. You may also want to know about your options and what to expect when you give bone marrow. By making the decision to donate bone marrow, you will make a difference in the life of someone else; in fact, you may even save someone's life.

The stem cells in your bone marrow have a short shelf life. This means that your marrow is only harvested when it is needed. If you want to give bone marrow, start by registering with a donor registry. Many countries have national registries, and you can find yours by searching for “bone marrow registry” and your region on the internet, or by asking your doctor.

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During the registration process, your name and contact information will be recorded, and a blood sample will be taken. Your blood is typed so that when someone contacts the registry to request bone marrow, your type will pop up if you are a match. You will also be interviewed to make sure that you are a good candidate for donation. You will be kept on the registry until you inform them you no longer wish to donate bone marrow, or until you pass a certain age, typically 50 although this varies depending on the registry.

If your marrow is needed, you will be contacted and tested to make sure that you are a match. If you are, the bone marrow donation process can begin. There are two ways to give bone marrow. The traditional way involves anesthetizing you and inserting hollow needles into your hips to take out the bone marrow, in a process called needle aspiration. This can leave your hips feeling sore for a little while, but most people recover within a week.

A process called apherisis can also be used to extract bone marrow. Apherisis is less invasive and painful, and it involves filtering your blood to extract useful stem cells. If you choose apherisis as a donation method, you will be given drugs to promote a profusion of stem cells in your blood. These drugs can cause aching bones, fatigue, headaches, and muscle pain, but these symptoms will stop when you give bone marrow and cease the drug regimen.

After you give bone marrow, the stem cells will be infused into a patient in need. You may choose to remain on the bone marrow registry, in which case you will not be asked to donate for a minimum of several months, or you may opt out after your single donation, if you desire. You should not register to give bone marrow if you think that you will be unable to donate when the time comes, or if you have a chronic illness.

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Discuss this Article

anon204931
Post 16

I am 16 years old and there is a little boy in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. I want to be tested to see if I am a match and my parents have said I can. Is there any way I can donate?

anon182804
Post 15

Do you get paid to donate bone marrow? If so, how much?

anon114223
Post 13

i am 10 and i really want to donate bone marrow. could i do it?

anon103820
Post 12

what is bone marrow? it is a part of blood?

Moderator's reply:

Check out: What Is Bone Marrow?

anon74745
Post 11

a bone marrow transplant can save a child's or even an adult's life, they take the marrow from hip can be uncomfortable then they place the stem cells from your bone marrow into a patient who is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Just think -- you could be saving a life! My daughter is waiting for a bone marrow transplant and some stranger is going tot save her life i pray.

anon63616
Post 10

can you give bone marrow if you are about to die or you're dead?

anon58912
Post 9

how many times in one's life can you donate bone marrow? is it really painful and would i be putting myself at risk?

amypollick
Post 8

anon54455: No you will not die if you donate bone marrow. Not that much is taken and your body will make more. I'm told it's extremely uncomfortable to donate, but it certainly won't kill you.

anon54455
Post 7

if i give my bone marrow will i be normal or will i die?

anon51522
Post 5

what restricts people from giving bone marrow?

anon50523
Post 4

I heard that if you donate blood you can't give a bone marrow. How accurate is this?

anon46712
Post 3

I'm 16 and want to give bone marrow. Can I?

anon41005
Post 2

can a person of 74 give bone marrow?

anon32513
Post 1

Why can't I give bone marrow at 58? I am healthy.

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