If it is decided than an allogeneic transplant is the best for you, your doctor will begin the process of finding a match. To find a donor we test your HLA and find the closest possible match to maximize the effectiveness of the transplant.
Usually doctors will check for a match in family members before accessing donor registers; there is a 30% chance that a sibling or family member will be a match. If there is not a match within the family the doctor will enter your details onto the donor registry system to see if there is a match within the people registered internationally.
If a match is not found your doctor may decide to use umbilical cord blood instead, as a close match is not as important because cord blood transplants have lower risk of rejection, or Graft Versus Host Disease after the transplant.
The Harvesting Procedure for Allogeneic and Autologous Transplants
There are two ways of donating stem cells. These are peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation and bone marrow donation. Your doctor will choose the best method for you.
PBSC donation, or Leukapheresis. This is a nonsurgical procedure to get stem cells from a donor’s blood. For five days preceding the procedure the donor will be given a drug call filgrastim via injection. This will help to increase the number of blood-creating stem cells in their blood. Blood is then taken from a needle in one arm, passed through a machine and put back into the other arm. The machine takes the blood forming stem cells out of the blood before the blood is returned to your body. These cells are then treated, frozen and transported to your transplant center. This process, from beginning to end can take up to two months, depending on how long it takes to find a donor and their location.
Bone Marrow Donation. Bone Marrow Donation is done under local or general anesthetic. The surgeon will remove bone marrow, usually from the pelvis, where bone red bone marrow is most prolific, and extract it using a wide needle. The bone marrow is then tested and frozen in preparation for travel.
All of the stem cells that we use have been donated by individuals on the donor registry, or who volunteered to donate the placenta and cord blood following the birth of a child. They have also been extensively tested for compatibility and viruses, minimizing the chances of complications after the transplant.