myth busters

Busting Myths About Stem Cell Donation

Here are some common myths about stem cell donation – time to bust them!

• Stem cells are taken from the spinal cord.
• All stem cell donations involve surgery.
• Stem cell donation is painful.
• Stem cell donation involves a lengthy recovery process.
• If I donate stem cells, they cannot be replaced.
• I come from a large family, so if I ever need a stem cell transplant, I should have no problem finding a match within my family.

Myth: Like finding a blood donor, it is easy to find a stem cell donor.
Fact: A perfect bone marrow match isn’t always available. In fact, in extreme cases, the odds of a match may be as little as one in 750,000 or less. The goal of searching bone marrow registries is to find the best available unrelated matches, giving patients the greatest possible chance of a positive outcome. And the only way to find these matches is to search a large pool of potential donors with varied ethnic and racial backgrounds. One of Canadian Blood Services’ priorities is to increase the ethnic diversity of the Registry by encouraging people of varying ethnic origins to consider volunteering to donate bone marrow.

Myth: Get stem cells from cord blood or grow them from skin cells.
Fact: No public cord blood bank in Canada yet; private cord blood banks are for the families who have paid money to store the cord blood for their own personal use in the future; only source for most patients is another adult stem cell donor; also volume of cord blood is such that 2-3 cord bloods are usually required for transplant

Although stem cells have been grown from skin, the technology is not advanced yet and will not be for a few more years.

Myth: It is a painful process to be registered.
Fact: Previously to have your DNA analyzed and the HLA tissue typing done, you had to have peripheral blood drawn (i.e. needle poke) but now it is a cheek swab.

Previously to donate stem cells, the only method was through bone marrow extraction through the iliac crest (posterior hip area) under general anesthetic. However, today most (about 80% of) donations are through peripheral vein pheresis (method whereby blood is drawn from the body, stem cells centrifuged off and remaining blood transfused back; less pain and blood loss)

Myth: I will be called to donate my stem cells.
Maybe. Although the chance of being a donor is small, if you are the ONEMATCH, you could potentially save someone’s life! Please register TODAY!