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About 1.7 million potential bone marrow donors are registered in Poland. This puts us at the forefront of European and world countries. However, since finding a "genetic twin" is difficult, donors are needed even more. You have not yet completed the declaration because you have concerns about the bone marrow donation procedure? Myths about bone marrow transplantation are dispelled by Dr. Iwona Wyleżoł, MD, PhD, specialist in hematology and clinical transplantation.

Do I need to fill in a lot of paperwork when registering?

Registration in the central bone marrow donor system is very simple and does not require filling in a large number of documents. There are currently two ways to register: direct and online.

The first way is this: you simply report to one of the facilities (the list is available on the Internet), where you can fill in the relevant declarations and undergo blood tests (about 10 ml of blood are taken), specifying the so-called Histocompatibility antigens (HLA). Tissue compatibility between the donor and the recipient is the basis that qualifies for a transplant (the organism of the sick person does not treat the donor's marrow as an "intruder").

The second form of registration: internet - it is faster. You visit the appropriate website, e.g. the DKMS Foundation, fill in a short personal questionnaire and order the registration package online, which includes a form and a sample for taking a lip smear.

The completed document and the smear are sent to the Foundation's address. This way you are registered as a potential bone marrow donor. To increase the chance of finding "genetic twins", your data also goes to the international database of bone marrow donors.

Can I be a bone marrow donor at all?

If you are under 55 - you may consider this decision. In addition, potential donors should not weigh less than 50 kg or have a BMI greater than 40 BMI (obesity).

And who definitely CANNOT be a bone marrow donor?

- The Ministry of He alth and the World Organization of Bone Marrow Donors strictly define the scope of diseases, the occurrence of which means that we cannot be potential bone marrow donors - comments Dr. Iwona Wyleżoł, MD - Among them there are: infectious diseases (e.g. hepatitis B and jaundice C), autoimmune (e.g. multiple sclerosis),endocrine (e.g. diabetes, hyperthyroidism), cancer or the nervous system (e.g. Parkinson's disease).

Moreover, bone marrow donors cannot be people after transplantation, as well as those with psychological or psychological problems (e.g. schizophrenia). In some cases, there are exceptions (e.g. people with arterial hypertension may become a donor), but each of them must be consulted with a specialist - adds Dr. Wyleżoł.

Do I donate bone marrow immediately after registration?

Successful registration does not mean, however, that you will definitely become a real bone marrow donor. It often happens that registered persons wait a long time for information about finding a "genetic twin" or … they never receive it. Tissue compatibility must be extremely precise, which is why it is not often impossible to "match" the donor and recipient.

It also happens that potential donors refrain from donating bone marrow, e.g. for he alth reasons, despite prior registration. Do you already understand why the more people registered, the greater the chance of helping patients who need a bone marrow transplant?

If, however, there is a match of the genetic material, then as a donor you will be informed about it during the telephone conversation. You will also be asked to come for blood tests to finally confirm the compatibility of the antigens and exclude the presence of viruses that may be dangerous to the recipient.

In addition, donor organ efficiency tests are also performed to confirm that there are no contraindications to donating bone marrow. Finally, you will be informed about the course of the bone marrow harvesting procedure and the date and place of its performance.

Does the needle stick into the spine during bone marrow collection?

- This is one of the most widespread and false myths about donating bone marrow. There are two ways to collect the marrow - from the abdominal blood (80% of cases) and from the plate of the iliac bone (20% of cases). The first of them is performed by apheresis - separation of hematopoietic stem cells from peripheral blood.

This means that blood is drawn from one hand of the donor, and then, after being separated by a special device called a cell separator, the blood returns to the bloodstream through a puncture in the other hand. This method is completely painless and safe. For 5 days prior to collection, the donor must receive G-CSF growth factor, which stimulates the release of hematopoietic cells from the marrow into the peripheral blood.

The second way to obtain hematopoietic cells is to collect bone marrow fromthe iliac plate, which is performed under general anesthesia, which makes it painless for the donor. By means of multiple punctures of the iliac bone, no more than 20 ml / kg body weight of the bone marrow donor is collected (this is a safe volume and does not require supplementary transfusion).

A slight pain may be felt at the puncture site for a few days after the procedure, the intensity of which resembles bone pain after a slight bruise. It disappears after administration of simple painkillers, e.g. paracetamol - explains Dr. Iwona Wyleżoł, MD, PhD.

I have a tattoo. Can I donate the marrow?

A person with tattoos can of course become a marrow donor. However, you must inform about it during registration and indicate the date of its execution. If the tattoo was made at least 4 months before the date of bone marrow collection, there are no contraindications for its implementation.

Is bone marrow donation safe for the donor?

Both the collection of hematopoietic cells from the dehydration blood and the marrow from the iliac plate is safe for the he alth of the donor. Donors are subject to long-term follow-up after donation of hematopoietic cells and bone marrow, and each adverse event is recorded, closely monitored and reported to the Ministry of He alth.

If I donate the marrow to someone else, will I be able to help someone in my family later?

- Help called unrelated recipient absolutely does not exclude the possibility of bone marrow donation to our family members! - explains Dr. Iwona Wyleżoł doubts. - Our bone marrow regenerates quickly and after a few weeks it "returns to normal". We can donate marrow to an unrelated donor up to three times (such cases, however, are very rare), and the number of donations for the family may be greater.

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