Stem cell donations
Haematopoietic stem cells are bone marrow cells that give rise to the various types of blood cells. They are administered to patients suffering from an incurable bone marrow pathology.
Why become a haematopoietic stem cell donor?
Haematopoietic stem cell donations (HSCs) allow people suffering from a haematopoietic disorder (disorders that prevent the production of these cells) to survive. These cells are used to treat the people suffering from leukaemia, cancer or anaemia.
Your generous gesture will enable us to:
• To increase the likelihood of finding a compatible donor in the National Register of Stem Cell Donors (officially known as the Marrow Donor Program Belgium Registry).
• To save a patient thanks to the transplantation of your HSCs if the cells are compatible with his.
Who can sign up as a voluntary HSC donor?
Anyone aged 18 to 40 who complies with the eligibility criteria to donate blood. When your HLA type has been established, this will be recorded in the National Register of Stem Cell Donors, which will increase the likelihood of finding a compatible donor for a patient awaiting haematopoietic (bone marrow stem cell) transplantation.
It is worth noting that haematologists prefer to transplant HSCs from young men, as women are often seen to develop antibodies after giving birth, which may reduce the chances of success of the graft.
Signing up with the National Register in 3 steps
Signing up as a stem cell donor is a long-term commitment as you may be asked to come forward to make an HSC donation at any time in the near or distant future, never around the time you register. It could be anything from several weeks to several years even, between the time when you register and the time you are called up to come in to donate HSC cells for a compatible patient.
It is important that you read this page and make enquiries with our collection teams if you have any questions and also give your commitment a good deal of thought.
For further information, please consult our brochure on stem cell donations.
You can pre-register at the National Register’s website at www.mdpb.be. You will be sent a confirmation mail, inviting you to call round to a blood collection centre or to attend a blood collection.Pre-registration
2. REGISTRATION PROCEDURE
You will first have a confidential medical interview ;
You will then be asked to complete and sign the “Informed consent form with a view to an HSC donation”;
We will then collect a blood sample from you for testing in order to establish your “HLA type”. This typing test enables us to determine the antigens carried by your white blood cells and your profile may be compared with that of patients who are awaiting transplantation.
3. CONFIRMATION OF YOUR REGISTRATION
If nothing stands in the way, your registration with the Register will be confirmed and you will be sent a donor card by post. Your details will be kept on file until you reach age 60, unless you were to cancel your availability as a donor.
Signing up with the National Register of Stem Cell Donors is a personal decision that needs to be duly considered as it involves a real commitment: you accept, if you are compatible with a patient, to make yourself available for collection. You undertake to inform the Blood Service of the Belgian Red Cross of all and any changes in your health status or your administrative details. You accept to donate your stem cells to anyone who may need them. You are free to withdraw at any time without having to state reasons.
How does haematopoietic stem cell donation work?
If you are found to be compatible with a patient someday, we will contact you to make an appointment with the doctor in charge of the collection. You will have a medical examination as well as additional examinations. If you comply with all the requisites, we can go ahead with the actual collection.
In order to harvest the HSCs, you will be given a subcutaneous injection with a growth factor (G-CSF) once a day over 4 to 5 days, which will increase the production of HSCs in your blood. The collection is similar to donating platelets: your blood goes into a machine which selects the HSCs. The other cells are immediately returned to your body. All materials used are sterile and single use. You will neither be anaesthetised nor admitted into hospital. The collection procedure takes 2 to 4 hours. If necessary, a second collection may be performed the next day. Please be aware that you may donate your HSCs just the once to a donor who is not related to you. However, if among your siblings you are compatible with a member of your family, you may donate against without any problem. As soon as you have made your donation, your name will be taken off the list of the National Belgian Register of Stem Cell Donors.
POST HSC DONATION
We will perform medical check-up at one week, one month, one year and five years after your donation to make sure your body has properly recovered.