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Anyone Donated Bone Marrow or Blood Stem Cells?

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Anyone Donated Bone Marrow or Blood Stem Cells?

Old 5th Oct 2006, 07:26
  #1 (permalink)  
I'm Just A Lawnmower
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Anyone Donated Bone Marrow or Blood Stem Cells?

I'm sure there are other prooners who are on the Anthony Nolan Trust register (or its equivalent in other countries) but is there anyone out there who has been selected as a donor? I have, and I'm scheduled to go through the donation process early in November.

All well and good but I'm wondering what effect it will have on my ATCO Class One. I've already written to the CAA's Medical Branch but the wheels of that organisation turn slowly so I'm asking you lot in the mean time.

There are two methods of donation - bone marrow donation under general annaesthetic and peripheral blood stem cell donation. I'm tending towards the latter method which involves a series of injections of a granulocyte growth factor followed by the actual donation which invoves my blood passing through a machine which separates out the stem cells. This takes about four hours with a possible second session the following day. Whilst I'm not really looking forward to all the needles I prefer that idea to undergoing a GA.

My main concern is that the g-csf drug might have an affect on my licence in which case I would opt for the bone marrow donation but I'm willing to listen to anyone who has been through either method of donation.
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Old 5th Oct 2006, 10:49
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BALIX,

AIC 97/2004 (Pink 70) says this, which is not really a lot...

BLOOD, PLASMA AND BONE MARROW DONATION - FLYING AND AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL

1 Many aircrew and controllers have expressed the wish to donate blood in support of the National Blood Transfusion Service. Blood donation is invariably a safe, painless and uneventful procedure and the blood volume is restored within a few hours by redistribution of body fluids and intake of soft drinks and beverages. A few individuals feel faint afterwards but this effect is minimised by resting supine for a short time (15-20 minutes).

Donations are not taken from those found to be anaemic.

2 Blood and Plasma Donation

2.1 Aircrew

2.1.1 Aircrew are advised that in order to prevent the very slight risk of post-transfusion faintness or syncope they should refrain from
donating blood or plasma if they are required to fly within twenty four hours.

2.2 Air Traffic Controllers

2.2.1 Air Traffic Controllers are advised to avoid donating blood if they are going on operational duties within a minimum of twelve hours. They can, however, give blood when coming off shift.

3 Bone Marrow Donation

3.1 After bone marrow donation which involves a general anaesthetic, the minimum interval recommended before duty for both
aircrew and controllers is forty eight hours. However, the individual response to this procedure varies and specialist medical opinion
should thus be sought.
Best of luck. I'm on the register as well, had to give a second blood sample a while ago but turned out not to be a good enough match. I still hope that one day I'll be able to help someone.
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Old 5th Oct 2006, 11:14
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I'm Just A Lawnmower
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Thanks Porco, I had a look for some information but didn't stumble across this AIC. Unfortunately it doesn't mention the peripheral blood stem cell doantion which needs the course of g-csf drug prior to donation.

I'd still prefer to use the peripheral method if possible but at least I know that I can't, I can donate bone marrow without much of a licencing problem. My wife, who is a practice nurse, would prefer me to go for the bone marrow donation as it doesn't involve drugs (other than the GA of course) but I don't fancy the GA or a couple of nights in hospital.
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Old 5th Oct 2006, 11:29
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Balix - I was one of the first bone marrow donors in the UK, many years ago now (23 yrs next month to be exact). Donated to my brother who had leukeamia and he is still with us today!

I expect that the procedures will have changed a lot, I'm not up to date on how things work now. For what its worth I had a GA as a few hundred ml of marrow was extracted from my hips. The procedure then was new, and I had around 40 (count 'em) holes drilled into my hips, 10 on each side, front and back.

No drugs beyond the anasthetic and anti-coagulants to keep the marrow 'fresh'. Made for quite a loss of blood as I couldn't stop bleeding post-op ;-)

The struggle after that was the pain, I was laid out for about 2 days as I simply couldn't move as my hips felt as though they had been hit with sledgehammers. I was up and walking slowly after a few days and back to normal (running, jumping) after say two weeks.

No doubt things will have changed - but check on what the surgery will entail. If there is any drilling to be done you might find you are incapacitated for a few days. It might keep you off work but shouldn't affect your licence.

Good on you! It is a very valuable thing you are doing. I'm on the register but haven't been called up since 1983 but I'd do it again tomorrow if needed.
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Old 5th Oct 2006, 12:42
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MyData

Good on you - you must have been pretty young to go through it all, I'll have the 'benefit' of being older. Your story goes a long way to stop me being overly wimpy about it.

According to the literature, marrow is collected in much the same way nowadays. 'Several' puncture holes are made in the skin and pelvic bone and the marrow, 1-1.5 litres of it, are extracted via a syringe. It takes about two hours under a general, although it can be extracted following an epidural. I suspct that over time they have got somewhat more proficient at doing it

As I said before, I'm willing to do this but I would prefer the other method as long as my licence doesn't get pulled.
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Old 5th Oct 2006, 13:00
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Sounds as though it hasn't changed much then

Judicious use of marketing terminology there too: "Several" and "puncture holes" makes it all sound very nice and simple.

It was the only time I've had a shot of Morphine, even now I can recall the 'happy' state that put me in, quite an experience.

Please keep us informed on how it goes - either way you decide to do it.
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Old 10th Nov 2006, 11:26
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Well, I underwent the donation procedure a coule of days ago and lived to tell the tale

I needed eight GCSF injections - two at a time for four consecutive days - prior to the harvest. These were designed to stimulate production of white blood cells. Of the expected side effects I suffered just a few aches and pains in the larger bones and some mild flu like symptoms. None of these were in the least bit dibilatating. The jabs themselves nipped a bit but were not painful.

On Wednesday I was attached to the apherisis machine. This involved a rather large needle (the same they use for blood donations) in the left arm and a smaller canular in the right. Strangely enough, the large needle was relatively painless whilst the canular hurt a fair bit as it was being inserted right next to my wrist bone. I spent five and a half hours on the machine during which time I had to keep by left arm still. The right arm could move but the position of the canular made movement fairly restricted.

The blood flowed out of the left arm into the machine which separated out the white blood cells before pumping it back throught the right arm. I got a bit of numbness in the hands, partly due to inactivity and partly due to calcium deficiency brought on by the anticoagulent added to the blood. This was eased by calcium tablets (not as horrible as they sound) and the addition of a calcium drip to the returning blood. This is, I believe, quite normal.

After the procedure they tested the harvested cells and luckily found out that they had enough so a second session on the machine the following day was not required. The numbness in the hands remained for a while but faded by the evening.

All in all, it has been a positive experience. Probably not recommended to the seriously needle-phobic amongst you or those with lousy veins. The recipient should be receiving the harvested cells today and I whish them well, whoever and wherever they are. Full marks to the Anthony Nolan Trust who look after the donors very well. I was supplied with flexible flights from Glasgow, a reasonable hotel in London for both Mrs Balix and I and a lot of support and back-up.

Just a final note regarding licensing - the CAA suspended my licence when I commenced the GCSF injections. They require me to have a blood test (more needles) that shows my blood levels back to normal. The medics at the Anthony Nolan Trust reckon that that normality should return a week or so after the apheresis procedure so if you are called to donate by this method, your Class One may well be suspended for 1.5-2 weeks. I hope your line managers are as undestanding as mine have been

One last rallying cry - the Anthony Nolan Trust are always recruiting potential donors. They are particularly targeting young males (like what I was when I joined) and ethnic minorities. So if you fall into this, or any other category (I think you have to be under 40) why not give them a call or visit their website http://www.anthonynolan.org.uk and find out when the next recruitment clinic is going to be in your area.
(Mods, I hope this last paragraph is allowed as it is a charity, not a commercial organisation. If not, feel free to edit it out.)
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Old 10th Nov 2006, 11:47
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As a potential but unlikely recipient of a bone marrow transplant may I thank all you people who are prepared to go through so much discomfort and disruption in order to help others. In a world which concentrates so much on the bad side of human behaviour it is both uplifting and humbling to read your matter of fact approach to such a selfless act. Having had bone marrow samples taken I know how painful the following few days can be.
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Old 10th Nov 2006, 12:20
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Originally Posted by BALIX View Post
According to the literature, marrow is collected in much the same way nowadays. 'Several' puncture holes are made in the skin and pelvic bone and the marrow, 1-1.5 litres of it, are extracted via a syringe. It takes about two hours under a general, although it can be extracted following an epidural. I suspct that over time they have got somewhat more proficient at doing it
My ex-wife donated in this way in 1989. Was no big deal and out of hospital walking around next day. No visible marks after a couple of weeks. Unfortunately the recipient never made it

BD
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Old 10th Nov 2006, 13:37
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Originally Posted by BDiONU View Post
My ex-wife donated in this way in 1989. Was no big deal and out of hospital walking around next day. No visible marks after a couple of weeks. Unfortunately the recipient never made it
BD
Well BDiONU, the method I went trough was less invasive than bone marrow donation and I was walking about at the end of the procedure. In fact I was glad to wak about as over five hours sitting still on a bed is a long time... Sad about your ex's recipient. The rule regarding anonimity have changed since then and all I know about the recipient of my cells is that he is a male adult.

pulse1

I suppose it is a selfless act but as far as I'm concerned it is just a case of them finding me to be a match and me doing it. I was a bit apprehensive about being used as a pin cushion but as I kept reminding myself, that is nothing as to what the recipient has been through. I hope that if it is found to be beneficial for you to receive either marrow or blood stem cells, a good match can be found. Good luck mate
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Old 10th Nov 2006, 14:38
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BALIX....

Good stuff on the marrow donation etc.

Does anyone know how long a military pilot would be grounded for? (I'm joining the RAF soon).

I'm certainly interested in putting myself down on the register.
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Old 10th Nov 2006, 15:23
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BALIX, well done! Glad all went well.

PP,

You can join the register here, there might be some pointers to answer your other question as well.
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Old 10th Nov 2006, 19:38
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I've 'donated' stem cells - to myself. Gave myself the gcsf injections for week or so then went on the aphoresis machine as described. Had to have 3 goes to get enough cells which were then stored until after my treatment and returned to me later. This was all 10+ years ago and its come on a long way, although the principle is the same. The harvesting didn't really have much effect on how I felt. Can't say how the gcsf affects medical standard for work but I was allowed to drive I think. Mind you I was off work anyway for the underlying ilness! Well done - and good luck.
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Old 10th Nov 2006, 20:58
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After a close friend of ours was diagnosed with cancer last year, I went along to the local bone marrow donation facility here in Wisconsin and signed up. There was a slight pause as they checked to see if I'm suitable, being from the infamously CJD-infested UK. I'm not allowed to donate blood or plasma because of my origins. The person in charge took the very sensible decision that if a patient is being faced with a bone marrow donation with a one-in-heavens-knows-what-but-probably-tiny chance of developing CJD or death within a short time, the patient should be the one to decide.

I was taken aback when she told me that they only have 9,000 signed up in a catchment area of at least 250,000. She said lack of funding affected their promotion and advertising, sadly.
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Old 11th Nov 2006, 19:26
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fernytickles

Does that figure of 250 000 relate to the total population of that area or the total eligible population? If it is the former, it isn't a bad total really. The Anthony Nolan Trust have 370 000 on their register which equates to round about 0.6% of the UK population. 9000 out of 250 000 is over 3%.

The Anthony Nolan register is the third biggest in the world after the USA and Germany despite the seemingly poor uptake of volunteer donors. Of course not every one of those 60 million Brits is eligible, it is probably quite a small percentage. You have to be between the ages of 18-40 though once on the register you can stay on it until you are 60. There are a whole heap of medical conditions that are not acceptable as well. However, there are still plenty of eligible people out there that could do their bit.
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Old 11th Nov 2006, 22:41
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Balix,

She told me 9,000 then I did a mental (not enuf fingers) calculation of the towns in the surrounding area for a gestimate of 1/4 million. It just seemed a low percentage to me - the more the merrier?

I just would like to be able to do more for our friend - he had a malignant brain tumour removed earlier this week.
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Old 13th Nov 2006, 11:02
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BALIX

A huge well done to you

I was a donor myself just over a year ago but had to have two sessions - ouch.

No side effects other than a little tiredness and just had my first annual check-up with no problems.

Finally, I was lucky enough to receive a letter from my recipient with the good news that she is in full remission and almost back to her normal self.

Made my week!

Regards

Mike
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Old 13th Nov 2006, 15:51
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Mike

Nice to hear from another donor I've got the tiredness as well but that could also be down to me being a lazy bugger

Did you have a blood test at your annual check? It is hot off the press that they are stopping the annual blood test and just replacing it with an questionaire. This change to the protocol is literally taking place this week so you may well be excused any further needles

Glad to hear that your recipient is doing well. Fingers crossed that mine will respond in a similar manner.
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Old 13th Nov 2006, 16:28
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BALIX, well done from me too!! I have been on the register for over 10 years, I had the second blood test a few years back but was not required. I must admit to being terrified at the prospect, but how would any of us feel if it were our kids needing marrow??
To those people living near main blood transfusion centres, you can regularly give platelets if you want to help a little bit extra. You go on a machine for a couple of hours, blood goes out, centrifuge, blood goes back. No more painful than a normal donation and the staff treat you fantastically. To top it all you get a sandwich and coffee during the procedure!!
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Old 16th Nov 2006, 18:25
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I'm Just A Lawnmower
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Quick update - the CAA have reinstated my Class One. They required a positive blood test so a nice nurse removed the required quantity of blood from my arm on Tuesday and sent it off to the lab. The result showed it to be perfectly normal so I faxed it off to the Anthony Nolan medics who wrote the CAA a nice letter to go with the results.

On the down side I've got to go back to work tomorrow

All in all, my licence was suspended for twelve days, something to consider should you get selected as a donor. Had it not been for the licencing requirement I reckon I could have returned to work a couple of days after the procedure.

So here is the rallying cry - if you are under 40 and in reasonable health and especially if you are a young male, get yourself off to the nearest donor recruitment clinic. You might just make the difference to some unfortunate cancer sufferer out there.
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