Donor FAQ´s


How high is the likelihood that I may be a possible donor?

The likelihood that you will be invited for confirmation of your typing is roughly 1:3. Your suitability as a donor will then be checked again very carefully to determine whether, from a medical perspective, anything else may stand in the way of a donation. Only 1 in 100 people on the registry will later be asked for a donation.

Am I the only person suitable to make the donation?

In principle it is possible that there are more people in the world who may be suitable donors based on their genetic characteristics. However, the probability of finding a suitable donor outside of the patient's own family is very low. According to estimates by DKMS, the likelihood lies between 1 : 20,000 and 1 : several million. In Germany, for 1 in every 7 patients there is no available donor.

Can I choose which collection method is used?

You are fundamentally free to reject one of the 2 donation methods. Naturally we try to use the collection method of your choice. It is also possible that only one of the 2 collection methods is suitable for your donation. It is usually dependent upon the patient's condition, which method is preferred or may even be essential. For that reason, you should in principle be open to both collection methods.

Can I withdraw my consent to donate?

Your donation is fundamentally voluntary and can be withdrawn. However, should you decide against an agreed donation, this may have fatal consequences for the patient. The patient undergoes an intensive preparation before transplantation. The diseased blood producing system is “shut down” using a chemo- and/or radiation-therapy. Unless they receive your stem cells, the patient often has no chance of survival. Therefore, before you agree to donate, consider very carefully whether you want to and are able to do this. In case of questions, fears and worries, our team at CMS is available for you around the clock.

How high is the likelihood that "my patient" will be healed by the donation?

The success of the stem cell donation is heavily dependent upon the patient's state of health. The chances of cure typically lie between 40 and 70%.

Will I have pain during or after the donation?

For peripheral stem cell donation, the stem cells are taken from the circulating blood. To increase the number of stem cells from the bone marrow into the circulating blood, you will inject yourself under the skin every morning and evening for 4 days with a so-called growth factor. During this time, possible side effects of flu-like symptoms may occur, typically bone and joint pain which can be treated very well with a mild painkiller (Paracetamol). For the actual collection, you will be attached to an apheresis machine for which venous access will be laid in each arm. The blood leaves the body on one side, flows through the machine, and is returned on the other side via the second access. A small part of the blood, the stem cells which are important for the patient, is collected. To make sure that the blood does not clot during this process an anticoagulant (like citric acid) is used. In the short term, this may lead to symptoms like prickling in the mouth and lip area or for example in the fingers. These complaints may be rapidly resolved through the administration of calcium. Experience shows that you will be tired after the donation but will not have pain. For bone marrow collection, stem cells are collected from the bone marrow in your iliac crest under general anaesthesia. No preparation with growth factor is required for this type of collection. Due to the general anaesthetic, you feel no pain during the collection. After the collection, complaints are often compared with muscle ache or with a bruise in the lower back area. This may last up to 7 days. You can get up again in the course of the collection day.

How long am I unable to work?

In the case of peripheral stem cell donations you are typically unable to work only on the day of collection. Should you unexpectedly be unable to work for longer than that, your GP can provide an attest. Bone marrow donation is typically associated with a 48-hour clinic stay (including the admission and discharge days). Most patients are unable to work for 3 to 5 days after bone marrow donation.

May I get to know "my patient"?

If you wish, you will learn the age, sex, and country of residence of your genetic twin directly after the donation. In Germany, anonymous mail contact is also permitted from the first day after donation. This applies only if requested by both the donor and the patient. In Germany, a face-to-face meeting is possible after the passing of the anonymity deadline of two years - again only if mutually acceptable. Many countries have their own regulations for contact which you can read about in the DKMS brochure.


When do I learn how "my patient" is doing?

To find out how your patient is doing, you must be patient. It is only possible to ask the responsible transplantation centre about the patient’s health after 3 months, at the earliest. In some clinics and countries, it may take some time to get an answer.


What is the difference between Cellex and a donorcenter (e.g. DKMS)?

No, but they work closely together. The DKMS is a file of potential stem cell and bone marrow donors. Here, the tissue markers of leukaemia patients are compared to those of voluntarily registered donors. If a suitable donor is found, the DKMS will pass the contract for cell collection to a cell collection centre. Cellex is the world’s largest collection centre for stem cells and bone marrow donations. Every day, approximately 20 cell collections are carried out by Cellex.

May I bring an escort with me?

Yes, you can bring an escort with you to the donation. The travel and overnight expenses will be paid. In the case of peripheral collection, you may stay overnight together in a hotel. If you have to be admitted for bone marrow collection, a hotel room will be reserved for your escort.

What happens if I cannot or do not want to administer the injection myself?

It’s not a problem if you are unable to administer the preparative injections yourself. You could ask a friend or acquaintance, or if this is also not possible, we can arrange for a carer. They will come to your home twice a day, morning and evening, and administer the injection.

What is the exact schedule on the day of the apheresis?

On the day of the apheresis, you (and your escort, if applicable) arrive at the collection centre between 07:30 and 08:00. After checking in, the responsible nurse will call you to the apheresis room, alone at first. Only once all donors have been connected to the apheresis machines are the escorts permitted to enter. After 30 minutes, the escort must leave the room. There are several reasons for this, amongst them safety and also the comfort of the other donors. No exceptions can be made. During the 3 to 5 hours of collection, you may watch a movie, listen to music, or read a book. Only 1 arm will be restricted in movement. If you need to visit the lavatory during collection, this too is possible. At the end of the collection, you can inform your escort of the expected collection time by telephone. After the donation, you should spend a further 30 minutes with us. That way we have a chance to answer possible questions and address possible circulation issues. You should complete a medical questionnaire during this time and submit it to us. In addition, you will receive a brochure with information regarding contact between donor and recipient. In the afternoon you will receive a call from us informing you whether a second apheresis will be necessary the following day. If this is not necessary, you may go home.