What happens When I register to become a donor?
Step 1: Swab Registration
After registering you will be given or sent a buccal swab kit to swab the inside of your cheek for a cell sample. This sample will be analyzed to determine your genetic profile and whether you match with someone in need.
Please watch this video on how the registration process is done.
1 in 500 registrants match and go on to donate and save a life
Step 2: Stem Cell Collection
Should you match you will be contacted. After several tests to ensure you are of good health, you will begin the donor process.
Not everyone who registers will be matched to a patient and asked to donate, but each registrant provides hope for those waiting. A person could be matched within a few months, 20 years later, or never at all. Stem cells are normally collected from the blood. Blood runs out thru an IV line out one arm, a machine collects the stem cells from your blood, then the remaining blood is returned to your other arm. Your own stem cells regenerate in a few days. You can decline donation at any time you feel uncomfortable.
Please watch Mike G's experience with donating stem cells
Step 3: You may have saved a life
The collected stem cells will be transplanted to the patient in need. Should the grafting of stem cells be successful and the patient survives, after a year you can be given the information of the patient should you wish.
Commonly asked questions
Q: Why can't older people become donors?
A: Stem cells from older patients are more likely to result in complications in the patient. They are best accepted from donors who are between the ages 17-35 (Canada) and 18-44 (USA)
Q: Do all stem cells donations involve surgery?
A: Some donations involve surgery and some do not. Canadian Blood Services may ask donors to give stem cells from their bone marrow or peripheral blood. A bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure, where as peripheral blood stem cell donation is a non-surgical procedure done in an outpatient clinic similar to a blood donation.
Q: Are stem cells collected from the spinal cord?
A: The donor's spinal cord is unaffected in the collection of stem cells. For a bone marrow donation, the collection of the stem cells is taken from the iliac crest which sits at the back of the pelvic bone. The day-procedure (operation) takes place under general anesthesia.
Q: Does it hurt?
A: For bone marrow donation, the collection of stem cells is taken from the iliac crest and this type of procedure is done under general anaesthetic so the donor experiences no pain. For peripheral blood stem cell donation, the collection is a non-invasive procedure done in an outpatient clinic and does not involve anaesthetic. The donor does not experience pain during either procedure.
Q: Any side effects?
A: Bone marrow donors can expect to feel some soreness in their lower back. There have also been reports of donors feeling tired and having some discomfort walking for a couple of days or longer. Most donors are back to their usual routine in a few days. Some may take a few weeks before they feel completely recovered. Peripheral blood stem cell donors report varying symptoms including headache, bone or muscle pain, nausea, insomnia and fatigue. These effects disappear shortly after donating. During the procedure you may feel cold, and experience some bone soreness indicating that stem cells are being released from your bone marrow into the blood stream for collection. You may also feel like you have the flu for a few days. These mild aches last a short period (1-2 days) and can be relieved with acetaminophen.
Q: Will my stem cells grow back?
A: The body replaces the stem cells within six weeks. After donating, most donors are back to their usual routine in a few days.
Q: Can I donate to Roshlind specifically?
A: When you sign up to become a potential donor, you are committing to saving the life of anyone in need, you do not choose who you want to save. It is rare to match up with someone, if you are chosen as a match, you are often their only chance to live.
Q: What if I say no?
A: You are free to decline to donate at any point in the process. Your decision is confidential.
Q: Are there any long term risks?
A: The short term side effects are minimal. There are no known long term side effects
Q. Who Needs Stem Cells?
A: Stem cell transplants are used to treat some 80 diseases and disorders, including:
Certain forms of cancer, such as leukemia's, lymphomas or myelomas. Bone marrow deficiency diseases caused by abnormal red blood cell production, such as thalassemia or sickle cell disease. Aplastic anemia (Roshlind's disease) and inherited immune system and metabolic disorders.
WAYS YOU CAN become a donor
This is the most convenient way to register but takes the longest to get you into the database. It works well if you live in a remote area or cannot make it to an event or to swab in person at a clinic.
You can register online at
A swab kit will be sent to your home to be returned by mail.