Nicola’s experience injecting G-CSF

smiling Nicola before she donates her blood stem cells to a stranger
March 23, 2022

I joined Strength to Give after my sister, who is a doctor, signed up when she was doing a blood donation and encouraged me to do the same. It seemed like a pretty easy thing to do and had the potential to help someone that really needed it, with very little effort on my part.

I received a phone call from the team at Strenght to Give explaining that I had been identified as a potential match. They asked me if I was interested in learning about what the process for a donation would be and whether I was willing to go ahead with the next step in the process. They explained everything that would be involved and answered all my questions. I felt really well informed and so was happy to continue to the next steps. I also felt that a day and a half out of my life was such a small thing to give up but could have such a huge impact on someone else’s, so it wasn’t a very hard decision.

I went to a half-day workup at the hospital where I had blood tests, an ECG, chest X-rays, and again was given a further explanation of the process. I felt extremely well informed and supported throughout. I did a stem cell donation, so I was given the G-CSF injections to give myself and was told that they could cause me a bit of bone pain. I was a bit nervous about giving myself injections, but in the end, it was absolutely fine, and the pain was very manageable with painkillers.

On the day of my donation, I went to the hospital in the morning, where I was hooked up to the apheresis machine and started my donation. The nurses were so lovely and helpful, and it was really an experience I could not fault. My body had responded well to the hormone injections, so my stem cell count was really high.

“I felt that a day and a half out of my life was such a small thing to give up but could have such a huge impact on someone else’s, so it wasn’t a very hard decision to donate.”

After the donation, I felt a little tired but had no other side effects. Again I just felt that it was such a small inconvenience for me and could have such a huge impact on someone else – it was really nice to be able to be of some help. Whether or not the donation was successful, I felt I had given someone the best chance they had. My friends and family thought it was a really nice thing to do and a very rare and special opportunity to be able to help someone in need.

Reflecting back on my experience, I’d been so well informed and prepared for every step of the journey. I guess the biggest surprise was how easy it was and how smoothly the whole thing went. I’d been preparing to be hooked up for the whole day and possibly have to come back the next, and I was in and out in 4 hours.

“Whether or not the donation was successful, I felt I had given someone the best chance they had.”

My advice to other donors is to ask lots of questions along the way – you learn a lot, and the team are so lovely and helpful.

Learn more about the donation process.

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