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Questions and Answers

1.    What are stem cells?

Bone marrow, found in the centre of all large bones, is where new primitive blood cells, know as blood stem cells, are produced. Blood stem cells develop into mature cells, like white and red cells.

2.    How can I save someone’s life?

When essential bone marrow is destroyed by disease or by the treatment to eradicate leukemia, blood stem cell transplantation from a matching donor provides the greatest chance of recovery.

5.    Who can help?

If you are aged between 18 and 40, weigh at least 8 stone (51 kgs) and permanently reside in the UK (and likely to be for at least the next 3 years), then you can join the ANT register.

6.    Are there any other circumstances where I might not be able to join the Register?

To protect both you and the patient, you cannot join if:
· You or your partner are HIV positive or carry the Hepatitis B or C virus
· You believe you may be at high-risk of HIV or Hepatitis B/C infection.


7.     How do I join the Register?

Joining the Register is simple! We run clinics across Bristol throughout the year. Checkout the clinics page for more information about where we are running clinics and how you can join the ANT register at a marrow clinic.

8.    What happens after I join?

After you join, you will receive a letter letting you know whether or not you have been placed on the Register. If you have been placed on it, you will get an annual newsletter and remain on file until you are 60.

If at any time you wish to be taken off the Register though, you may do so. However, joining the Register is a serious step so please carefully consider the financial and ethical implications of being a donor before joining.

9.    Will I have to donate once I join the Register?

Not all donors are asked to donate. Here are some statistics that may give you an idea about the chances of donating:
Out of every 100 people who join the Register, 10 will be asked to give a further blood sample to confirm the accuracy of a match with a patient.
Out of every 100 people who join the Register, 1 will be asked to donate marrow.

10.    What happens if I’m a match?

If you are found to be a match, then you may be asked to donate.
All blood stem cell donations take place in one of the specialised centres in London. The Anthony Nolan Trust makes all the arrangements for the donor and covers any financial loss incurred by our donors as a result of having donated.

11. What different methods are there of blood stem cell collection?

Blood stem cells can be collected by bone marrow extraction or taken from the peripheral blood. Ideally all volunteers should be willing to donate by either method but the final choice of donation method would by yours. 
In bone marrow extraction, under general anesthetic, blood stem cells are extracted from the hip bones by needle and syringe. No surgical incision is required and the blood stem cells taken replace themselves within 21 days. You may feel some short-term post-operative tenderness and discomfort in your lower back and tiredness is inevitable for about 5-7 days.

In peripheral blood stem cell donation, a natural growth factor is injected for five days prior to the collection. One or two collections may then be required, but overnight hospitalisation is not usually necessary, nor a general anesthetic. Side-effects include bone pain and flu-like symptoms during the five day period of growth factor injection. During the collection the donor may experience discomfort at the sites of needle insertion and a temporary tingling sensation in the body from the anticoagulant used to keep the cells from clotting.

12. Are dates for the blood tests and possible operations flexible?

Unfortunately, given the nature of the conditions patients tend to have when they get to the point that they need a bone marrow transplant, the dates for the operation are not widely flexible. Usually, the odd day or two wouldn’t be a problem but clearly, if an urgent bone marrow transplant was required, it wouldn’t be wise to delay the transplant for much more than a few days.
Many people worry that if they sign up, they may be called up at an inconvenient time (e.g. during an exam week). In reality, this is very unlikely to happen although if it does happen, the trust will do everything it can to choose dates for donation that are most convenient for you.

Any other questions may be answered at the Anthony Nolan Trust's Frequently Asked Questions page, or alternatively please e-mail us at bristol-marrow@bristol.ac.uk if you have any other queries.