How does stem cell donation work? – Who can be the donor?

Stem cells have come to be known as a treatment to a variety of diseases. The potent nature of the stem cells has led to it being a big contributing factor in the medical science to the treatment of many life-threatening diseases.

So often doctors make use of the stem cells not just of the patient’s stored ones but if the patient does not have a stem cell stored – a donation is taken into account for carrying out the treatment.

Stem cell donation is possible when the receiver and donor both qualify to certain medically important criteria and match the requirement.

When is stem cell donation required?

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When a patient is consulting a doctor for the treatment of their diseases ideally the medical aids like medicines, surgeries, incisions etc do the job of curing the person. But at rare times there are diseases which only require the use of stem cells to cure the diseases from inside. The doctor shall ask for the stem cell transplant to be done by getting it donated from another person. This particularly works in cases where there is an incurable disease or something that is life-threatening.

  • Immune system disorder
  • Bone
  • Blood cancers
  • Cardiac diseases
  • Malfunction in cell generation

These are some of the circumstances when getting a stem cell donation is required.

Who can donate stem cells?

To donate the stem cells the donor should have certain criteria matched to the patient so that the transplant can be done. This requires the person to be healthy and free from diseases but also includes the following criteria.

  • HLA or Human Leukocyte Antigen matching to the patient’s
  • Person should be between 18 to 35 years of age
  • Good health
  • No serious disease
  • Matching of the blood group

How does stem cell donation work?

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There are different processes involved for the donation of stem cells for different usages. This is done confirming to the requirement of the patient. As the stem cells can be extracted out of blood or bone marrow – both have a different way of working.

Blood stem cell donation

For blood stem cell donation the donor is required to donate blood with the help of a needle procedure which is much similar to the blood donation process. Here the stem cells are them removed from the blood and used on the patient to cure for their diseases. A short amount of the separated stem cell is also inserted back on the donor to help their body process the regeneration of stem cells in the blood.

Bone marrow stem cell donation

Bone marrow stem cell is usually extracted out of the hip bone of a person. Therefore, this process requires at least a couple of days for the donor and patient to rest and recover. The stem cell is extracted from the marrow and transplanted on the patient while re-plating some of the stem cells back into the donor for their regeneration in the donor body. This ensures that donor is not affected by the transplant. Soon enough the stem cells divide and grow in numbers in both the donor and the patient.

What are the difficulties faced in stem cell donation/transplant?

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Stem cell donation/transplant is not taken as a positive donation by the people and hence the doctors face a hard time finding the donor. As the requirement of matching blood group and HLA too is crucial the number of donors is generally low.

Stem cell transplantation is also taken to be a complex process by most of the patients who don’t readily agree for the treatment. However, it is to be noted that when you are consulting a qualified and experienced doctor there isn’t any reason to worry. The stem cell donation/transplant is not accompanied with any major side-effects or problems for the people involved. It is a safe step to curing the diseases we humans face returning back to the roots we have grown from.

Stem cell therapy is one of the fast-evolving medical aids to treating a lot of life-threatening diseases. It is transforming the medical assistance for people with a brighter future!