Frequently asked questions
Below, we address some of the most frequently asked questions by potential donors. If you would like to know more information, you can consult the Donor's guide.
If you have a more specific question then please do not hesitate to send us an email.
- Is bone marrow the same as the spinal cord? No it is not the same. The spinal cord can be found in the spine and it transmits nerve impulses around the body. In comparison, the bone marrow is the soft tissue that is found inside the bones. The bone marrow is the place in the body that produces blood because it contains the stem cells.
- Will I receive any remuneration for the donation of my bone marrow?No, in accordance with Spanish law the donation is altruistic. However, costs such as the travel and accommodation of the donor and their partner will be covered if it is necessary to perform the operation in a city that is not their place of residence. In addition, any working days lost due to the procedure will also be covered.
- How does a bone marrow transplant work? Before the bone marrow transplant takes place, it is necessary to determine whether the donor and the patient are compatible. This means that the cells of the two people are sufficiently compatible that they can live indefinitely in the recipient.
In the transplant process, it is normal to donate through cytapheresis or peripheral blood donation. Once the donation has been made, it is infused into the circulatory system of the recipient. The stem cells will graft the bone marrow to the bones of the recipient which will facilitate the production of healthy blood cells. Another way is to extract the bone marrow from the donor by making a puncture in the iliac crest (hip bone). There is also the option toThe way of extracting the cells will be valued according to the patient’s needs and the donor’s opinion. More info here.
- What is cytapheresis? The stem cells are found inside the bones, but if the donor receives a "hematopoietic growth stimulant" then the cells can be transferred into the blood stream and extracted. The "hematopoietic growth stimulant" is administered for a period of 4-5 days and then the blood cells are extracted through the process of cytapheresis. The blood is obtained from a vein in the arm of the donor through a cell separating machine, which collects the stem cells. The rest of the blood is then transfused back into the patient through a vein on their other arm.
- What are the secondary effects of the procedure for the donor? The only possible secondary effect of the donation procedure is that the area surrounding the bone marrow extraction point will be a little sore for a period of up to 48 hours. However, this pain can be controlled with common anaesthetics. As the procedure will take place in the operating theatre under a general anaesthetic the risks will be the same as with any operation under general anaesthetic. When the donation is made through a process of apheresis, the period in which the "hematopoietic growth stimulant" is administered could lead to flu-like symptoms such as pain of the bones and muscles.
- Is it possible to know the recipient of my donation? No, in accordance to Spanish law the donation is anonymous.
- If I register with the Registry of Bone Marrow Donors (REDMO), does that imply that I will definitely be a donor? No, when you register as a donor in the REDMO, it is necessary to undergo a blood test that will indicate the compatibility of the HLA antigens between the patients and the possible donors. Although the probabilities of compatibility are very low (approximately 1 in 40,000), if it is detected that you are the best possible donor for a recipient then your local centre will contact you.
- In the case I am compatible with a patient, would it be possible to make another donation in the future? Yes. A couple of weeks after the donation procedure the recuperation of the bone marrow will be complete, allowing the donor to make further donations. However, if the process is through cytapheresis, a further donation could only be made to the same patient. If the donation is made through a puncture then it will be possible to make further donations to other patients after a period of at least one year.
- If I am compatible with a patient that is from another country will it be necessary for me to travel to the place that they are situated? No, the bone marrow will be extracted then sent to the patient.
- Is it possible to select the hospital where I will make the donation? No, it is necessary to go to a specialist hospital because not all hospitals are equipped for the procedure. The closest hospital to your address will be selected from the list of those facilities that carry out the process.
WHAT IS AND ISN'T BONE MARROW DONATION?
- IT'S offering your help anonymously and altrouistically to any patient in the world who may need it.
- IT'S a commitment to yourself and others.
- IT'S the only organ donation that can be effectuated in life and where the cells you have donated are completely regenerated.
- IT'S the only possible cure for thousands of people all over the world who need it.
- IT ISN'T anything related to you spinal cord, but your bone marrow. A donor can't become a paralytic because the spinal cord or the nerves around it aren't touched.
- IT ISN'T an intervention that will eliminate your marrow. It regenerates completely.
- IT ISN'T donating for someone else and later not being able to donate to a family member if they were to need it.
- IT ISN'T dangerous for the donor.