Donating Peripheral Blood Stem Cells

Peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) are found in your bloodstream. The process of donating PBSCs is known as apheresis and is similar to donating blood.

Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation process

You can expect certain steps during the PBSC donation process:

Preparing for peripheral blood stem cell donation

Before donating peripheral blood stem cells, you receive a series of injections:

  • For 5 days before the donation, you get a daily injection of a growth factor drug called filgrastim. This drug increases the amount of PBSCs in your blood. You may choose to get the injection in your upper arm, abdomen or thigh.
  • You get your first injection of filgrastim at Henry Ford to make sure there are no severe side effects, such as a racing heart rate or shortness of breath.
  • Our medical staff will teach you how to give yourself the next 3 daily shots at home.
  • On the fifth day, you receive the final injection at Henry Ford about 1 hour before the actual donation.

Peripheral blood stem cell donation

Peripheral blood stem cells are usually collected during a single visit to the hospital:

  • The donation process is similar to donating blood.
  • A machine separates and stores stem cells, platelets and white blood cells.
  • This machine then returns your plasma and red blood cells to you through a catheter, or tube, inserted into a vein in your arm.
  • Most PBSC donations are completed in one session. Sometimes, 2 sessions are needed to collect enough stem cells.

Recovering from peripheral blood stem cell donation

Recovery from peripheral blood stem cell donation is usually very quick:

  • Your stem cell levels will return to their usual amounts within a few weeks.
  • Individual recovery times vary.

Risks of peripheral blood stem cell donation

Donating peripheral blood stem cells is extremely safe. Risks are minimal, but may include:

  • Side effects from taking the growth factor drug, including:
    • Headaches
    • Bone or muscle pain
    • Nausea
    • Sleep problems
    • Fatigue
  • Infection at the catheter site
  • Pain and bruising at the catheter site
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced blood clotting function
  • Dizziness, chills and muscle cramps
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