FAQs

About AME & Mythbusters

Mythbusters

What if the donation process is painful?


Stem Cell Donation 90% of people now donate directly from their bloodstream, in a procedure known as peripheral blood stem cell donation (PBSC). You’ll receive a series of four hormone injections to make your stem cells multiply into the bloodstream. Then you’ll head to a clinic, where the stem cells will be extracted from one arm, and your blood returned to the other. And that’s it. Some people report flu-like symptoms from the hormone injections, but these are usually mild and vanish within a few days. Bone Marrow Donation Just 10% of people are asked to donate from the bone marrow itself. This is the procedure that lies at the root of the ‘bone marrow donation is painful’ myth – but in reality, it takes place under general anaesthetic, so you won’t feel any pain while it’s happening. Afterwards, you’ll probably feel a bit tired and bruised, and we recommend that you take a short break from work to recover. But that’s all – and it makes a lifesaving difference.




Will there be long term consequences?


In majority of cases donors usually go home within a day and can return to normal activity within 1 week. However, a very small number of donors (0.3%) experience long-term back pain. A proportion of these people have had back problems prior to their donation and it is important that you disclose any previous or current back problems to the doctor you see for medical assessment. You would usually not be allowed to donate bone marrow in such a circumstance.




Will the stem cells be collected from my spine?


There are two methods of donating blood stem cells. 90% of the time, the method of donation is peripheral blood stem cell collection. In this method, a thin sterile needle takes blood from one of the donor’s arms and a machine extracts the blood stem cells from it. The donor’s blood is then returned to them through their other arm. This is an outpatient procedure that is usually completed in 4-6 hours. Bone marrow is used as the method of donation for the remaining 10% of the time. Bone marrow is not extracted from the spine, but from the pelvic bone using a special thin sterile needle.




Does the procedure require surgery?


10% of the time people are asked to donate from the bone marrow itself. This procedure takes place under general anaesthetic, so you won’t feel any pain while it’s happening. Afterwards, you’ll probably feel a bit tired and bruised, and you may prefer to take a short break from work to recover. Majority of people do tend to return to normal activity with 1 week. But that’s all – and it makes a lifesaving difference.





All About AME

What is the Asian and Middle Eastern Blood Cancer Trust?


The Asian and Middle Eastern Blood Cancer Trust (AME) is a non profit organisation eager to save the lives of patients with blood cancer by increasing the number of stem cell donors particularly from BME communities. Our goal as an organisation is to bridge the gap between the national bone marrow stem cell registers and the Asian, Middle Eastern and other ethnic minority communities. We have three goals; to educate by breaking down myths and perceptions towards donation; to promote through traditional and social mediums; and to recruit by hosting recruitment drives. We are a group of young professionals in London seeking to bring about major change to a topic that is often neglected within the community.




Why focus on Ethnic Minority Groups?


Someone in need of a transplant is most likely to find a match in a person with a similar genetic history. That often means someone from the same ethnic background. Potential donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are underrepresented on the register. This includes people from African, African-Caribbean, Asian, Chinese, Eastern European, Mediterranean and mixed race backgrounds.




Why do people need a stem cell transplant?


A stem cell transplant can cure or improve the outcome for someone with blood cancer or blood disorder. In short, it can save their life. When a person has a blood cancer or blood disorder, their blood cells have stopped working in their normal way. That means they can’t do vital things like fight infection or carry oxygen. A transplant of blood stem cells from a healthy person can replace and repair these damaged cells – and hopefully cure their disease. Blood stem cells are new, primitive blood cells made in the bone marrow, found in the centre of our large bones.




What can I do to help?


REGISTRATION If you are interested in registering to become a stem cell donor, please see our Registration page.
HOSTING A RECRUITMENT DRIVE If you are interested in hosting a recruitment drive, please fill out this form.
VOLUNTEERING If you would like to become an AME volunteer, please let us know a bit more about yourself and your goals here.




Are there any restrictions to joining the register?


Depending on which organisation you choose to sign up to, there are restrictions that may prevent you from being able to donate, as outlined below. DKMS Anyone between the ages of 18-55 and in general good health can become a potential blood stem cell donor. Pre-registration is possible from the age of 17. You must also be permanently living in the UK. Please check that you are able to register by looking at this list. We have listed the exclusion criteria which is put together by experts and doctors at DKMS and are necessary to ensure the safety of both patients and donors. What excludes someone from becoming a potential blood stem cell donor?

  • Weight under 7 stone 12lbs/50kg
  • Obesity (e.G. Body mass index (bmi)>40)
  • Severe illnesses of the central nervous system or mental illness
  • Systematic autoimmune diseases or other severe chronic illnesses (e.G. Diabetes or rheumatism)
  • Rheumatism
  • Cancer (including being cancer-free, but having had cancer in the past)
  • Addiction (alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs)
  • Severe heart diseases
  • Severe lung diseases
  • Severe kidney diseases
  • Severe metabolic diseases
  • Severe tropical infectious diseases
  • Infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis b or hepatitis c, and syphilis diseases of the haematopoietic system (blood disorders)
Anthony Nolan There are lots of other factors which mean, unfortunately, you may not be eligible to join our register. These include if:
  • You (or your partner) are, or think you are, HIV or human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV) positive
  • You don’t live in the UK
  • You have ever been injected with non-prescription drugs, including body-building drugs (including one-off use)
  • You’re involved in high risk sexual practices that may increase your exposure to sexually transmitted diseases
  • You’ve EVER had any of the following:
  • Cancer (including leukaemia)
  • Heart disease or heart surgery
  • Stroke
  • Epilepsy (unless you haven’t had a seizure or taken medication for it for the last three years)
  • Any neurological condition
  • COPD including lung clots
  • Diabetes (unless it’s controlled by diet alone)
  • Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Reiter’s syndrome
  • Autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Vasculitis
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Graves’ disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Pernicious anaemia
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Haemophilia
  • Thalassaemia
  • Sciatica
  • Hepatitis or a positive blood test for hepatitis or HTLV
  • An allergy to latex or anaesthetic





Read more and join the donor register!