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Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Collection

About Stem Cell Collection

Stem cells, also known as Hematopoetic Progenitor Cells (HPCs) are immature blood cells. They can become red cells, white cells, or platelets once they mature. The stem cell (or progenitor cell) collection is a portion of the bone marrow transplant process. If you are donating cells for someone else's use, the procedure remains the same. You will be given medication in a shot for several days prior to collection to help your bone marrow release the stem cells into your blood so that we can collect them.

About Your Visit

You will register in Outpatient Admitting a few minutes before your scheduled procedure and receive directions to our area. When you arrive in our unit, our nursing staff will get you ready and take some blood prior to starting the collection. One of our doctors will get your medical history and do a physical, answer any questions you may have and then ask you to sign a paper giving us permission to do the procedure. A nurse will draw a blood sample and connect you to the machine used to collect your stem cells.

Getting Started

In order to perform your procedure, we need to be able to draw your blood and return it. This can be done in different ways. One of the most common ways is through a catheter inserted into a vein. You will report to our Heart and Vascular Center early in the morning on the first day of your collection. A temporary catheter will be placed in your neck while you are there, and then you will be transferred to the apheresis area for your stem cell collection. If you are donating cells to someone and you have good arm veins a needle will be placed in one of you arms to draw the blood into the machine and another smaller needle will be placed in your other arm to return the blood back to you. You will need to keep your "draw" arm straight during the entire procedure.

Your doctor should discuss these options with you before your first collection procedure.

How We Collect the Cells

We use a special machine to collect stem cells. It sounds like a washing machine on the spin cycle. Once you are connected to the machine the procedure will normally take 4-6 hours. A nurse will monitor your vital signs frequently. Once the collection is complete, the stem cells are taken to the Stem Cell Lab for counting, processing, and freezing. We will let you know if you have enough cells or if you need to return for another collection. The number of procedures needed varies with each individual. If you need to return for more collections, the shots will continue each day until you have reached your goal.

What You May Feel

Experiences differ, but some common symptoms, known as citrate reactions, are listed below. You may not feel any of these symptoms, or you may have symptoms not listed here.

  • Numbness or tingling around the mouth/nose, hands/fingers, feet/toes
  • Leg cramps
  • A "vibrating" sensation
  • Nausea
  • Feeling cold

These symptoms may occur because your calcium is low from having the procedure performed. This is easily corrected by drinking milk or by chewing TUMS®, which are rich in calcium or we may give an IV solution of calcium during the procedure.

Other Symptoms

  • Dizziness: You may become dizzy or light-headed, but this is rare.
  • Fatigue: You may feel tired the evening following the procedure.

A nurse will be with you at all times and will watch for any symptoms during the collection. A physician will be available if needed. You will be asked frequently if you are feeling different in any way.

Frequently Asked Questions

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May I eat and drink before or during the collection?

If you are having a catheter placed for the collection, you will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure. Once you have arrived im apheresis and during the collection, you may eat and drink. We encourage you eat foods and drink fluids, especially ones high in calcium, after the collection. Your physician will discuss this with you prior to your collection, and an apheresis nurse will call you to review the instructions.

How are stem cells saved?

Your stem cells are frozen in a liquid nitrogen tank which is kept in the Stem Cell Lab area. The tanks have alarm systems and are closely monitored. Your cells will be stored until the time of your transplant.

Will my blood touch the machine?

No. Your blood will go into a sterile disposable kit within the machine.

Does someone check to see if the machine is working properly?

Yes. Our machines are quality checked and cleaned regularly.

How will I feel after the collection?

Most people feel tired, but can resume normal activities after resting. You should plan on having someone drive you home.

Is it okay for me to take my medications?

You should be taking Neupogen as prescribed by your health care professional. You will continue to take it until your collection is complete. Continue to take your regular medications unless otherwise instructed by the nurse from our area when she calls prior to your first collection.

Will I go home with this catheter?

It's possible. If you need to collect additional cells the next day, you will be given detailed discharge instructions and will have a number to contact someone over night, should you need assistance. If your collection is complete, you will have the catheter removed that day.

For More Information

We want to answer all questions to your satisfaction. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us:

Apheresis Service
University Hospital
8th Floor, Room 8330
750 East Adams Street
Syracuse, New York 13210

Phone: 315 464-9024
Fax: 315 464-9021

Office Hours: Mon-Fri: 7:00 am - 4:30 pm
Emergency Services please call the hospital operator at 315 464-5540. Ask for the nurse on call for apheresis.