How does donating work?

Do you have it in you to save a life?

Donating stem cells takes time. It takes heart. But remember, it takes only one donation to save someone’s life. If you are interested in giving this extraordinary gift, here’s some information you need to know.

How’s your health?

The health and safety of donors and recipients is our top priority.

Two to three weeks before the donation, we’ll ask you to visit a hospital:

  • To meet with the doctor taking the sample;
  • To establish a medical history and undergo a general physical examination;
  • To submit blood and urine tests;
  • To undergo an electrocardiogram and a chest X-ray;
  • To complete any other medical examinations required.

In Québec, there are two designated collection centres:

  • Montreal region: Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital;
  • Québec City region: Québec City CHU.

Two options, one unique gift

And that’s that! Once all the conditions are met you can donate stem cells to someone whose life depends on it. Above all, rest assured that a Héma-Québec representative will be by your side throughout the entire process. They will assist you at all stages and collaborate with hospital staff.

You choose how you wish to donate. Here are the two types of possible donations:

1. Bone marrow stem cell donation

This donation is made under general anesthesia: bone marrow is withdrawn from your pelvis (hip) bones, then the collected stem cells are usually tranfused into the patient within 24 to 48 hours of collection. Although you must be hospitalized for this type of donation, the procedure is generally painless and your stay will be short. Donors claim any pain they may feel after donating compares to a bruise after a fall.

Other relevant information:

  • Procedure duration: 45 to 90 minutes;
  • Your hospital stay: 24 hours.

2. Stimulated peripheral stem cell donation

For this type of donation, cells are collected in hospital by apheresis, a process that separates blood and other blood components. In this case, blood is removed through a needle in your arm and then passed through a centrifuge to isolate the stem cells. Afterwards, the remaining blood components are returned to you. This type of stem cell donation is similar to blood donation by apheresis. Your stem cells will be transplanted to the patient within 24 to 48 hours of collection.

Other relevant information:

  • Before the donation: Once a day, for 4 or 5 days, you will be injected with a drug to stimulate the amount of stem cells circulating in your bloodstream. Your donation takes place on your last injection day at the hospital.
  • Procedure duration: 3 to 5 hours.
  • Your hospital stay: return home the same day.

Learn more about stem cell donation, step by step in the Following video.

A voluntary donation

Stem cell donation, like blood donation, is voluntary and unpaid. Thanks to the invaluable and selfless generosity of ordinary people, thousands of families see their lives changed forever. Travel expenses, expenses incurred for hospital stays and medical expenses related to the donation are fully reimbursed by Héma-Québec.

However, Héma-Québec does not offer financial compensation for time off work. That being said, most employers are open to granting special leave to employees who undertake such a selfless act.

A totally confidential gift

If you are hesitant to donate for reasons of confidentiality, please know that donor anonymity is maintained at all stages. Héma-Québec’s Stem Cell Donor Registry, affiliated with international registries and transplant centres, maintains strict confidentiality policies. However, if you and the recipient would like to connect, you can do so after one year. In Québec, this waiting period is required by law.

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