Bone Marrow Donation

In case of surgical bone marrow harvest, you undergo general anesthesia, and bone marrow is aspirated from the hip bone. This approach is used in some 20% of all donations.

When bone marrow harvest will be performed, you are admitted to the hospital the day before the procedure and undergo a routine checkup. The donation itself usually occurs early in the morning on the next day. Under general anesthesia two physicians insert a needle into the hip bone on the left and right side. The removal sites are easy to feel: if you put your hands on your lower back over the hip bone, you will feel little bony bumps to the left and right of the spine. As a rule, two small cuts (approx. 0.5 cm) and several needle punctures are sufficient to harvest bone marrow. A cannula is inserted into the bone, and after that, a needle attached to a syringe is used to aspirate bone marrow. On average, between 1 l and 1,5 l  are removed. The exact amount taken is determined by the amount of stem cells needed by the patient, the upper limit is determined by your body weight. (No more than 1,5 l will be taken under any circumstances.)  Approximately 5% of the body’s total bone marrow is harvested. Normal blood levels tend to return to normal within two to four weeks.

Knochenmarkentnahme Schaubild

After around ½ to one hour, the harvest ends and you will stay for several hours in the recovery room. To make sure that no hematomas develop at the removal sites, you lie on two small sand bags placed under the back. As soon as you are taken from the recovery room back to the patient room, you can stand up and walk around again. You spend another night in the hospital for observation; all in all, you are in the hospital for about 48 hours.

After the procedure, donors have reported that the complaints at the treatment site can be compared to an intense muscle ache or heavy bruising in the lower back; the complaints can last for up to two weeks.