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Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation is the process of gathering blood-forming cells directly from the blood stream through a nonsurgical procedure called apheresis (these peripheral blood forming cells are the same as the ones located in liquid bone marrow). Five days before donation, donors will be given injections (for all five days) of a drug called Filgrastim to boost the amount of free-floating blood-forming cells in your bloodstream. On donation day, donors blood is withdrawn through a needle in one arm and sent through a machine that will collect the blood-forming stem cells and then return the remaining blood back to the donor through a needle in the opposite arm. After the procedure is complete the donor’s PBSC are transferred to the patient’s location for transplant.

Most (90%) of all PBSC donations are achieved with one apheresis procedure, which can take up to 8 hours. The remaining 10% of donors must return for a second apheresis session, each taking between 4-6 hours to complete.

Donor’s blood stem cell levels will return to normal within a few weeks post donation, and because only 1-5% of a donors marrow is needed the immune system stays strong during this time and most donors can anticipate returning to work, school and most other activities within 1 to 7 days (recovery times vary depending on the individual).

At the time of donation, donors are given detailed information about what to expect after donation and who to contact if questions or problems arise. Be The Match follows up with donors until they report a full recovery, regardless of how long it takes.

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