Friday, 18 September 2015


What are stem cells and why are the transplanted?
Stem cells mostly live in the bone marrow (the spongy center of certain bones) where they divide to make new blood cells. When the blood cells have matured they then leave the bone marrow enter into the blood stream. Stem cell transplants are used to restore the cells when the bone marrow has been destroyed by a disease such as cancer and it's treatment drugs chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 

Why are stem cells important?
Stem cells make 3 types of blood cells - red bloody cells, white blood cells and platelets. We need a certain number of these blood cells to keep us alive. 

What are the sources of stem cells for a transplant?
-Bone marrow (from you or a donor) - The blood stream (from you or a donor)
 - Umbilical cord from newborns. 

What is it like to donate stem cells?
My brother was my stem cell donor and from his personal opinion it is exceptionally a walk in the park which he would happily do again. Before donating he had to have a full check up and blood test to ensure he was fit and healthy. He then had to have 5 days of having an injection to over stimulate his stem cells to ensure he was making enough to donate to me. To harvest his cells his blood was removed from a a small thin tube connected to his vein in his arm then cycled through a machine that separates the stems cells from other blood cells. The stem cells are kept while the rest of the blood is returned to the donor through another tube in his other arm. This procedure can take around 4-6 hours to complete and there are very rare side effects. 

You can read more about my brothers stem cell harvest here.

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