Allogeneic Donor Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Harvesting

This information describes the procedure for donating peripheral blood stem cells at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).

Stem cells are blood cells that have not matured to become a specific kind of blood cell, such as a red blood cell or platelet. Peripheral blood is the blood that circulates in your blood vessels, and includes every type of blood cell. Peripheral stem cell harvesting is the procedure used to collect some of the stem cells in your blood. When stem cells are taken from a donor, it is called allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell harvesting. When the cells are given to the patient, it is called a peripheral blood stem cell transplant. The cells that you donate will grow, mature, and replace the patient’s destroyed cells.

Preparing for Your Procedure

Before the harvesting is done, you will receive a medication called filgrastim (Neupogen®). This medication helps move the stem cells from your bone marrow into your peripheral blood where they can be collected (harvested). You can either be taught to do the injections yourself or you can discuss other arrangements with your nurse. The injections of filgrastim will be every day for about 5 to 6 days.

Common side effects of filgrastim include bone pain in the arms, legs, and lower back. It can also cause headaches and flu-like symptoms. Either regular or extra strength acetaminophen (Tylenol®) may relieve these side effects. If acetaminophen does not help, your doctor will prescribe something stronger. If you will be giving yourself the filgrastim injections, you must store it in the refrigerator.

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Harvesting Procedure

The harvesting procedure will take place in the Donor Room at MSKCC, located at 1250 First Avenue (between 67th and 68th Streets). You will have 2 appointments on consecutive days. On these days, you will get the dose of filgrastim at least 1 hour before your appointment. The harvesting is done while you are on a bed or in a recliner chair. It usually takes 3 to 4 hours. A needle will be inserted into a vein in each arm. A machine that separates the stem cells from your blood will be connected to the needle in one arm. The blood goes through the machine to collect the stem cells. The rest of the blood returns to you through the needle in your other arm.

As your stem cells are collected, you may have:
  • Muscle cramps
  • Twitching
  • A tingling sensation around your lips and fingertips

These are signs of low calcium levels in your blood. Drinking milk and eating dairy foods, such as cottage cheese, can help reduce these effects. The staff in the Donor Room can also give you Tums®, which are a quick and easy source of calcium.

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After Your Procedure

  • Bandages will be applied where the needles were inserted into your arms. Keep them in place for 3 hours.
  • If there is bleeding when you remove the bandages, apply gentle but firm pressure on the site(s) for 3 to 5 minutes. Call your doctor if the bleeding does not stop.
  • Most donors can go back to their regular activities the day of or the day after the donation.
  • Develop a fever of 100.5° F (38° C) or higher.
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Call Your Doctor If You:

  • Have any of the following where the needles were inserted in your arms:
    • Redness
    • Bleeding
    • Pain
    • Swelling
Filgrastim Injection Schedule
Filgrastim (Neupogen®) dose: __________
Date Time Donor Room Appointment
    8:00 am
    8:00 am
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If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
Allogeneic Donor Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Harvesting
©2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on November 30, 2015