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Faqs & Myths on Blood Stem Cell Donation

CoVID19 Related FAQ’s

Can I register as a blood stem cell donor if I am/ have been infected with CoVID19. How about if I am living in close proximity with someone who is strongly exposed to the virus (like a medical professional, police personnel etc.)?

Yes, you can register as a  blood stem cell donor if you are/have been infected with Covid19. It is a viral infection and there is currently no medical evidence in contradiction to register as a blood stem cell donor. As per information currently available, there is also no restriction to register if you are living in close proximity with someone who has High Risk to the virus.

Can I donate blood stem cells if I am/ have been infected with CoVID19?

Yes, you can donate once you have completely recovered and are declared healthy by a certified medical professionalBefore donation, you would undergo a thorough medical check up as per DATRI process.

Can I donate blood stem cells if I am/ have been living in close proximity with someone who has been/ is currently infected with CoVID19?

Yes, you can donate once you have completed the necessary quarantine period without any symptoms and are declared healthy by a certified medical professionalBefore donation, you would be required to undergo a thorough medical check-up as per DATRI process.

General FAQ’s

What is Bone Marrow?

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside some of the bones, such as hip and thigh bones. It contains stem cells which can develop into the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body, the white blood cells that fight infections, and the platelets that help with blood clotting, which are necessary for survival.

How can a Blood Stem Cell Transplant help a Blood Cancer Patient?

Several fatal blood diseases including blood cancer and blood disorders can be cured by transfusing Blood Stem Cells derived from a healthy volunteer donor (HLA matched related/unrelated). These healthy cells replace the diseased or depleted blood stem cells in a patient and thereby give the patient a second chance at life.

What are the common blood diseases and disorders that can be treated with blood stem cell transplants?

Blood Stem Cells can be used to treat more than 100 Blood Diseases and Disorders. Few of the common blood diseases and disorders that can be treated with Blood Stem Cell Transplant are listed below

  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
  • Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD)
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
  • Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Hurler Syndrome
  • Krabbe Disease (Globoid-Cell Leukodystrophy)
  • Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD)
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL)
  • Severe Aplastic Anemia
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID)
  • Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)
  • Thalassemia
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS)
Why is it difficult for an Indian patient to find a match?

Below are two reasons for this,

  • In an Indian population of 1.3 billion, only around four lakh people are registered themselves as blood stem cell donors.
  • Ethnicity plays a key role in finding a match and India has a huge diverse ethnic background. In addition to which, each patient has only 25% probability of finding a match within their own family, rest 75% they have to search in their extended family and in unrelated donor registries.
What are the expenses incurred by DATRI?
  • Cost of recruiting a donor

It costs INR 1800 for DATRI to perform the HLA Typing for a donor to be added to the registry.

  • Donation related expenses

After a match is found for a patient, DATRI does a Confirmatory typing along with detailed medical health check-up tests for the donor. We also incur expenses for the donation process, transportation of blood stem cells to the patient, lodging, food and travelling expenses of donors.

• Administration and operational cost of DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry.

How much does it cost the patient?

The whole cost for the Blood Stem Cell Transplant is dependent on the hospital, as all requests are received through the treating doctor.

I will donate blood stem cells only for a patient I know and not to anyone else.

In this case, you cannot register with DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry. You can contact Histogenetics for more information.

(Email: hospitalrelations@histogenetics.com or Phone: 044-22541053;

Toll Free No: 18001023066).

If I donate to someone and later I need blood stem cells, will the patient whose life I saved be able to donate back to me?

No, the patient can’t donate as people who have been diagnosed with cancer cannot donate.

Do I have to be on certain medication after donation?

No, it is not required. In case, if it is required then the doctor will advise.

BLOOD STEM CELL DONATION MYTH BUSTERS

FAQ’s on Registration

Does it cost me anything to register at DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry?

It costs INR 1800 for DATRI to perform the HLA Typing for a donor to be added to the registry. A donor who wishes to join the registry is requested to pay for his/her HLA typing. All donations to DATRI are 80G exempt.

Do I have to give blood to register as a Blood Stem Cell donor?

No, a simple cheek swab (buccal swab) sample along with completed registration and informed consent forms are all it takes to register as a Blood Stem Cell Donor.

What is a cheek swab / buccal swab?

A cheek / buccal swab, is a non-invasive way to collect cells from the inside of a person’s cheek, which are used to do the HLA typing of a donor.

I just ate, drank tea / coffee, smoked can I swab?

Yes, the HLA typing is not affected by consuming food or by smoking. But one has to make sure to rinse his/her mouth thoroughly before the swab is taken.

Can I swab if I am chewing gum / paan?

Before swabbing, please remove the gum. If you are chewing paan, kindly rinse your mouth thoroughly before swabbing. Stained swabs can be difficult to process.

Is it ok if I don’t know my height, weight and blood group?

Yes, but donors are requested to write an approximate height and weight. If there is a match with a patient these details would be helpful.

Why do you need contact information of a friend or family member for registration?

We need the contact information of another person in the case your contact information changes. We will only contact your friend / family member to get in touch with you, in case we are unable to reach you with your shared primary information.

If I am found to be a match, what next?

If your HLA matches with that of a patient, you will be contacted by a DATRI representative. Read ‘Information on the Donation Process – FAQ’s to know about the process in detail.

What are the chances of my HLA matching?

Your HLA could match the patient’s HLA, within few weeks of registration or it may take years. There is a chance that you may never match. But, if you do get matched, you are the ONLY one who can save the patient’s life. 

Is it possible to register/donate with diabetes even though insulin injections are taken every day?

You will not be able to donate if you have insulin dependent diabetes. But if you had been found as the only match, a clearance from the collection center physician is taken for further processing.

I take medicines for heart disease. Can I register/donate Blood Stem Cells?

No, you can’t register/donate Blood Stem Cells if you have or had any kind of heart problems in the past and present.

I am hypertensive (High BP). Can I register/donate as Blood Stem Cell Donor?

Yes, you can register as Blood Stem Cell Donor. But once you are found as a match, a clearance from the collection center physician is taken for further processing.

I am actively trying to get pregnant. Can I register/ donate Blood Stem Cells?

Yes, you can register. If you are a match while you are pregnant, you cannot donate for a period of one and half to two years.

Can Pregnant Women / Nursing Mothers register/ donate Blood Stem Cells?

Yes, you can register. However, pregnant women and nursing mothers can’t donate as the health of the donor is DATRI’s priority.

I have a history of miscarriages. Can I register as Blood Stem Cell Donor?

Yes, you can register. If you are a match while you are pregnant, you cannot donate for a period of one and half to two years.

Will the donation impact my ability to have kids someday?

No, Blood Stem Cell Donation does not have any impact on your ability to have kids someday.

I am anemic. Can I register/donate Blood Stem Cell?

Yes, you can register. Once you are found as a match, a clearance from the collection center physician is taken for further processing.

I had too much to drink last night. Can I still register as Blood Stem Cell Donor?

Yes, you can register as Blood Stem Cell Donor.

I am sick today. Can I register today as Blood stem Cell Donor?

Yes, you can register as Blood Stem Cell Donor.

I have a rare blood group. Can I register Blood Stem Cell Donor?

Yes, you can register.

Once registered, can I refuse to donate when matched?

Being a blood stem cell donor is absolutely voluntary. Please remember that your refusal to donate could mean someone losing a chance to live!

Will a registered person be able to receive a copy of their HLA report?

The reports are shared only when it is formally requested by the donor. The donor has to mail his/her full name and barcode ID number (given in the Donor ID card) along with one government ID proof to info@datri.org after 45 days of registration.

If I have misplaced my donor card / forgotten my donor ID, what should I do?

Please do write to us at followup@datri.org or info@datri.org with your full name, date of birth, primary location and we shall share donor ID with you.

FAQ’s on Donation Process

How does the Donation process work?

The various steps of the donation process are explained below

  • Confirmatory Typing (CT)

A buccal swab /blood sample is collected to verify the HLA typing.

  • Master Health Check-up

A series of tests are done to ensure that the donor is fit and does not have any infectious diseases like Hepatitis B, HIV, CMV etc.

  • Donation

The donor will donate blood stem cells either by PBSC or Bone Marrow harvest methods whichever is discussed and consented for.

  • Transportation

DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry arranges to transport the Blood Stem Cells to the patient anywhere in the world.

What is Confirmatory / Verification Typing (CT/VT)?

If your HLA type matches with any patient looking for a match, you will be called upon to donate your Blood Stem Cells to save the patient. A cheek / buccal swab or a small sample of your blood is sent for Confirmatory Typing (CT) to verify your match with the patient.

Why is a health checkup required before donation?

There are two different methods of Blood Stem Cell Donation

  • Bone Marrow Donation
  • The Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation (PBSC Donation)

A medical health check up is mandatory for the donor to proceed with either method of blood stem cell collection. This is to make sure that the donor is healthy before he/she donates, and patient is not put at risk from the collected donor cells.

What is Bone Marrow Donation?

This is a traditional method that has been in practice for more than 40 years. Bone Marrow donation is an inpatient process where bone marrow is extracted from donor’s pelvic region (iliac crest -hip bone) through a process called Aspiration. The procedure happens inside the Operation Theater once the donor is given general anesthesia. The entire procedure will take between 1 and 2 hours.

What is PBSC Donation and GCSF?

About 80% of Blood Stem Cell Donations across the world are PBSC (Peripheral Blood Stem Cell), where once the donor is declared healthy; he/she is administered sub-cutaneous injection of G-CSF (Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor) growth factor for 5 days. G-CSF is a glycoprotein that stimulates the bone marrow to produce blood stem cells and release them into the blood steam. This 5-day period is called mobilization period as G-CSF is mobilized into peripheral blood. The Collection happens on the 5th day of the mobilization period through a process called Apheresis where in the blood stem cells alone are taken from the donor’s body and rest of the blood is returned to the donor’s blood circulation. Apheresis process is an outpatient procedure which lasts for 3-4hrs, similar to platelet donation. Post collection, the elevated stem cell (granulocyte) count will normalize within 1-2 days.

What are the risks involved with the Blood Stem Cell Donation?
  • Bone marrow donation

The most serious risk associated with Donating Bone Marrow involves the use and effects of general anesthesia during extraction. After the bone marrow extraction, you might feel tired or weak and the area where the bone marrow was extracted might feel sore for a few days. You will be advised a pain reliever for the discomfort. You’ll likely be able to get back to your normal routine within a couple of days, but it may take a couple of weeks before you feel fully recovered.

  • Peripheral blood stem cell donation

The risks of this type of Blood Stem Cell Donation are minimal. Before the donation, you’ll get injections of GCSF that increases the number of blood stem cells in your peripheral blood. GCSF may sometimes cause, bone pain, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, nausea or vomiting. These usually disappear within a couple of days. You will be advised to take a pain reliever for the discomfort by the collection center  physician.

Is it possible to donate Blood Stem Cell where I live?

You can donate in the city where you live, if there is an apheresis / bone marrow collection center. In case there is no apheresis / bone marrow collection center in the city, DATRI will make all the necessary travel and stay arrangements to facilitate donation.

How much Blood Stem Cells will be collected during Blood Stem Cell donation?

A maximum of 300ml of Blood Stem Cells will be collected this is determined by calculating the weight of the patient.

When will the donation take place?

In most of the cases the donation would take place 1 to 3 months after the confirmatory test. We always give notice and accommodate your schedule.

How often can a donor Donate Blood Stem Cells?

With DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry the donor can only donate Blood Stem Cell up to two times. This number is restricted because DATRI is focused on treating donors with care. However, there are no health restrictions involved with further donations.

Is the donor allowed to know the details of the patient and vice-versa?

As a standard practice across registries worldwide, the details of the donor and patient are kept confidential.

The donor/patient may be told the following details of the Patient/donor

  • Age group
  • Gender
  • Diagnosis
Why can’t I meet the patient now?

All registries across the globe follow a standard protocol. DATRI facilitates donor recipient meeting after one year of donation at a mutually agreed time and place. This standard protocol is to support the donors’ and the recipients’ privacy and discretion.

Why Me? Why not someone else?

You could be that 1 in 10,000 match! It is near impossible to find another alternative because your HLA is unique. 12 characteristics of the HLA are evaluated which have to match with the patient, which makes it so difficult. You are the only hope for the suffering life.

Will my religion permit Blood Stem Cell Donation?

Blood Stem Cell Donation is similar to blood donation. So there are no religious interferences. Moreover, no religion restricts saving another life.

Will Blood Stem Cell Donation affect my fertility?

Irrespective of gender, there have been no reported cases or research evidence that suggests adverse effect on fertility. Blood Stem Cell Donation does not influence or affect fertility.

Won’t I be deprived of blood or Blood Stem Cells if I donate?

Your body will not be deprived of blood stem cells. The 5 days of GCSF injection increases the number of blood stem cells in your blood stream. These ‘extra’ blood stem cells will be collected from your body for the patient. During blood stem cell donation only these extra blood stem cells are collected; the remaining components of blood (RBC, WBC, platelets) are returned to the body.

I am a woman, if I donate my blood stem cells/bone marrow, will it affect my state of pregnancy?

No. For female donors, pregnancy test would be done during health checkup and before donation process. If it is positive you will not be permitted to donate. But you can be a blood stem cell donor one year after child birth, and once you stop nursing your child.

Can I opt for the type of donation (Bone marrow/PBSC) or do I have to follow the method that doctor advices?

Treating physician of the patient will be the right judge to determine whether the patient needs a PBSC product or Bone Marrow product. However, when we counsel the donor for both, the final choice is left with the donor to choose through which method he/she is willing to donate.

Does donating Blood Stem Cells have short-term or long-term effects on my body?

There have been no long term side effects reported. Less than 10% of donors face flu-like symptoms. This is due to G-CSF which increases the number of white blood cells in the blood stream. These symptoms are alleviated with a prescribed paracetamol.

Will my medical condition interfere in me being a donor?

Potential donors who have tested positive for HIV, Type 1 diabetes, or have had epilepsy, or currently pregnant, nursing cannot donate. To know more in detail about exclusion criteria please see (link).

Do I have to be on certain medication after donation?

No. Mostly, it is not required. In case, if it is required then the collection center physician will advise.

What are blood stem cells?

Blood stem cells are immature primitive cells that have the capacity to multiply and mature into different types of blood cells such as

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body
  • White blood cells, which help fight infection
  • Platelets, which help control bleeding.
Why is it important to become a Blood Stem Cell Donor?

Becoming Blood Stem Cell Donor is important because, patient has only 25% chance of finding a HLA matched donor within the family. Those who do not find a match within the family have to depend on a registry like DATRI to find a HLA matched Unrelated Blood Stem Cell Donor willing to donate their blood stem cells. There are more than 4500+ patients in the DATRI’s database who are still waiting for a match. You could be a life-saving match to such a patient and gift them a chance to survive. If you are not registered with DATRI, chances are you might be a lifesaving match for someone and we will not be able to find you.

What is the difference between Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Donation?

When Blood Stem Cells are extracted from the Bone Marrow, it is called Bone Marrow Donation. If the Blood Stem Cells are collected from the Peripheral Blood Stream, the procedure is called Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PSBC) Donation.

Is blood stem cell transplant a 100% cure for the patient/what are the survival chances for the patients?

The chances of survival for children are 80% and adults are 60%. It also depends up on other factors like the severity and the stage of the disease.

How is blood stem cell donation different from a cord blood transplant?

In a cord blood transplant the cord blood stem cells are collected and stored in a cord blood bank, and used when required. But in a blood stem cell donation, blood stem cells are collected only when there is a HLA matched donor and at the correct time of treatment of the patient.

What are my responsibilities as a donor?

Patients rely on the HLA matched donor with a lot of hope to recover. So if you are found to be a match, you should willingly donate your blood stem cells, as you are the ONLY one who can save the patient’s life.

Why does DATRI need monetary donations?

DATRI is a not-for- profit organization registered as a Section 8 company. We depend on monetary contributions to add potential donors to the registry, to help donation process and to support our operational expenses.

What are the eligibility requirements for potential donors?

There are 3 (three) requirements,

  • You must be between the age of 18 and 50 years.
  • You must fulfill some of the important health guidelines–free from diseases like HIV, Hepatitis, cardiac illness, auto immune disorders, chronic lung disease etc.
  • Most important, you should have a kind heart to help someone in need.
What is a cheek swab / buccal swab?

A cheek / buccal swab, is a non-invasive way to collect cells from the inside of a person’s cheek, which are then used to do the HLA typing.

Is my data confidential? How is the data stored?

Yes, all our donor data’s are kept confidential. The data is encrypted and stored in a secure database.

How long does it take for my HLA information to be added to the DATRI registry?

It takes about 5 weeks for the HLA typing results to be added to the registry.

I am a regular blood donor? Can I donate blood stem cells?

Yes, you can donate.

I am going to be married soon. Will donating blood stem cells affect my family life?

Donating blood stem cells does not interfere with your normal routine or your family life. All our donors who have donated are leading a normal life.

How do I update my personal details?

You can send a mail to followup@datri.org or info@datri.org with details to be updated along with the donor number printed on your donor ID card.

Are there any side-effects caused by the injection GCSF?

There are no long term side effects have been recorded. Donor may experience some short term side effects like slight headache, nausea or body ache during the 5 days of the GCSF injection. This decreases once the blood stem cells are collected from the donor’s blood stream. Also, during the period of GCSF injection, a general paracetamol will be prescribed by collection center physician.

FAQ’s on Donor & Recipient Meet

Will I get to know the details of the patient for whom I am donating blood stem cells

Please note that as per guidelines followed by large Blood Stem Cell Registries across the world, personal details of Donor or Patient will NOT be revealed to either party till the minimum stipulated period is over post-transplant. This is also dependent on the prevailing laws in the country of residence of patient. Further, any update on Patient health status will be shared ONLY if the same is made available to us by the Transplant Center. This requires Patient Consent as well. This protocol is strictly adhered to by DATRI in accordance with our data confidentiality policy as well.

Please click on the below link to know more about this:

https://www.nature.com/articles/bmt20102#Sec5

When will I get to meet my donor/ recipient?
Kindly note that any Donor-Patient interaction will be possible ONLY after a period of minimum 1(one) year post transplant date based on mutual written consent from both parties. Donors and patients can contact each other anonymously via DATRI. This will be further dependent on below parameters:

# The regulations prevalent in the patient’s country of residence

# Health of the patient: Any such interaction is possible ONLY if the patient is in good health and is desirous for the same.

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