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“It hardly hurt at all”: donors discuss G-CSF injections

Donor injecting GCS-F into belly
June 6, 2023

The process of blood stem cell donation is not only safe, but it is also a relatively simple procedure. Approximately 90% of blood stem cell donations are made through peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, a method that has revolutionised the donation process.

However, before the stem cells can be collected, donors must receive a series of injections of a drug called granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF). G-CSF works by stimulating the bone marrow to produce more stem cells and release them into the bloodstream. The injections are typically self-administered by donors at home and are generally well-tolerated with minimal side effects.

Mark P, a stem cell donor, shared his experience with the GCS-F injections, saying that “thinking about doing it in the lead up to the first one was more difficult than actually doing it.” Despite being initially nervous, Mark found the injections to be painless and manageable. His experience reflects the general sentiment of most donors who undergo the process.

However, it is essential to note that while the procedure is generally safe, it is not without risks. Some donors may experience side effects, such as bone pain, headaches, and fatigue, which can be managed with pain medication.

Sean, another donor who received GCS-F injections, reports that he experienced only “some aches in my lower back, as expected,” and that “the injections hardly impacted me at all.” Despite being in heavy training for a triathlon at the time of the injections, Sean was still able to tolerate the procedure without any significant issues.

Nicola was initially nervous about self-administering the injections but explains that the pain was “very manageable with painkillers.” Nicola’s experience highlights the importance of seeking medical advice and support during the donation process.

While self-administering injections may seem daunting, it is worth remembering that the procedure is relatively straightforward, and most donors find it to be a manageable and straightforward process. Moreover, the process of donating blood stem cells can make a significant impact on the life of someone suffering from a life-threatening condition.

Courtney, who also received GCS-F injections, notes that the “injections prior sucked, but nothing that Panadol couldn’t fix,” and the experience was still manageable. She experienced some bone and muscle pain, which is a common side effect of the procedure, but her friends were able to provide her with the necessary support to make the process easier.

It is also worth mentioning that for some donors, self-administering the injections may not be feasible, especially for those who live far from the donation centre. Chloe, a nurse and donor, was granted permission to self-administer the injections due to the distance she lived from the donation facility. She received her first injection at a local hospital to be monitored for any adverse reactions, and the remaining three injections were self-administered at home. Chloe experienced headaches and bone pain but was able to manage these symptoms with regular pain relief medication.

While GCS-F injections may seem daunting at first, most donors find the process to be manageable and straightforward. Seeking medical advice and support during the donation process is crucial to ensure that the procedure is successful and that donors remain healthy throughout.


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