Donate stem cells: help in the fight against leukemia



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Stem cells play a key role in the body's renewal processes and are therefore an important component in the healing of serious blood disorders, including leukemia. In the therapy necessary for treatment, radiation ensures that stem cells in the bone marrow are completely destroyed, after which healthy stem cells must be used again at exactly that point. In order to maintain this, voluntary donors are required because they can make a decisive contribution to the success of the therapy by providing an appropriate blood sample.

Peripheral stem cell transplantation Stem cells are obtained either directly from the bloodstream or from the bone marrow. The former variant is called peripheral stem cell transplantation, whereby the donor is given a growth factor in advance that increases the number of stem cells. These then pass into the blood and can be removed using a procedure called apheresis. However, two venous accesses are required for the withdrawal, through which the blood is led out and back into the body.

The bone marrow transplantation, on the other hand, is carried out under general anesthesia, with about 1 liter of bone marrow blood mixture being taken from the pelvic floor. However, since this method is far more complex than the peripheral method, it is only used occasionally. The chances of success of both options depend on a multitude of factors, in particular the different tissue characteristics of the donors are crucial for this and must match those of the recipient.

Store instead of donate? Donating stem cells is not only an option for modern medicine, storage can now also be financed. It is less about supporting sick people than about storing early protection for your own offspring. The storage of umbilical cord blood is a quick intervention after birth, in which the midwife simply pushes the blood out of the umbilical cord, completely painless and without any disadvantages. Since the stem cells are so young, there is hardly any harmful genetic material in them. Many parents are already using the attractive storage option to provide their offspring with the body's own cells in the event of a disease, thereby preventing delayed infections or intolerances. Companies like Seracell offer the uncomplicated intervention and enable storage for decades. The process cannot do any harm, but it is currently difficult to see how exactly the stem cells can be used one day and whether they serve their purpose. (pm)

Image source: stem cells © Sven Hoppe - Fotolia.com

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Video: How to Register as a Stem Cell Donor. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


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