Donating peripheral stem cells

In about 80% of donations, stem cells are removed by means of a process known as peripheral stem cell apheresis.


Before donation, stem cells have to be stimulated to replicate and be flushed into the blood. To make this happen, you usually give yourseld (or by medical staff if requested) an injection into the skin of a medicine called granulocyte stimulating growth factor (G-CSF) in the morning and evening for four days.

On the fifth day, the day of the donation, you once again inject the growth factor in the morning. This growth factor, G-CSF is a substance similar to a hormone that occurs naturally in the body; it has an impact on the formation of blood and is produced when the body has to fight an infection. Taking G-CSF,  a subgroup of white blood cells, granulocytes and their precursor cells will increase. G-CSF causes also the stem cells in the bone marrow to increase in number and be flushed into the blood stream.

During the time when you get the injections, there may be potential side effects which resemble flu symptoms, especially mild bone pain. These symptoms can be treated with pain relievers, e.g. paracetamol (acetaminophen).


Upon arriving at Cellex for the apheresis, you will undergo another brief health examination. The donation itself is performed using an apheresis machine. This machine works with centrifugal force to separate the blood into its individual components, making it possible to gather the appropriate cells from the blood. You are hooked up to the machine, and a tube is inserted into a vein in each arm. The sterile disposable tubes are linked to the machine. Then the blood leaves the body on one side, flows through the apheresis machine and re-enters the body on the other side. The small part of the blood which contains the stem cells the patient needs is collected within this process. To keep the blood from clotting in the course of the procedure, an anticoagulant is added. We primarily use an anticoagulant that is similar to citric acid and is quickly broken down by the body. For many donors, this substance causes a short-term calcium deficiency which might cause symptoms such as tingling in and around the mouth or fingers. If these symptoms occur, they are treated by giving you calcium infusions.

Apherese Schaubild