You may be asking yourself what this PBSC donation is versus bone marrow donation. It turns out what the doctors are after when they take your bone marrow, is the stem cells located within the marrow. Most people are familiar with the procedure that is surgical and involves general anesthesia where the doctors go in with a large hollow needle and draw bone marrow from your hip/pelvis bones (which is a bone that produces large amounts of marrow, as well as your femurs and sternum). Turns out that today, nearly 75% of the donors will be asked to give a PBSC (Periphiral Blood Stem Cell) donation. This process involves 5 days of Neupogen ® (filgrastim) injections. This is a drug that is already used in cancer patients to help them stimulate their own blood growth and to increase their own stem cells and white blood cells within their blood stream. As we know in leukemia patients their own blood growth is not always healthy and that’s why they need these transplants. To help their own body produce healthy blood from the healthy donor’s stem cells. So the injections actually draw your stem cells out of your bone marrow and into your bloodstream. At the end of the 5 day period, you go through 1-2 days of apherisis, a process where blood is drawn from one arm, passed through a centrifuge system that separates out your stem cells and then your blood is returned to your body through the other arm. It is the same machine that is used when donating plasma or platelets.
Those are the main differences. The PBSC is being more widely used, but is a part of an FDA clinical trial. Neupogen ® is approved by the FDA for use in cancer patients, it just hasn’t been approved for use in donors, hence the clinical trial. It’s been in this phase for 20 years now so they have a good basis for side effects. It causes bone aches as well as possible muscle aches or headaches and occasionally flu like symptoms. You are allowed to take Tylenol and the doctors will prescribe something stronger if need be. Pain is nothing new to me, and the way I see it is that 5 days of aches is nothing compared to what the patient is going through.
Read about it through www.marrow.org.