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  • Mai Smith

Stem Cell Myths

Have you ever heard of stem cells? Maybe you have heard of stem cells but aren’t quite sure what they are, what they do, and how stem cell donors can save someone’s life.

This is the third blog post of a series about the need for stem cell donations –particularly from members of minority populations.

By the end of the stem cell blog series, you will be able to tell your friends and family about stem cells, what it means to be a donor, the facts about stem cell donation, and what to expect as a donor.

In the previous post , we learned more about what stem cells are.

Today we are going to go over the myths you may have heard about stem cells. Let's get the facts straight.

Myth #1: All stem cell donations involve surgery.

Not all stem cell donations involve surgery. There are two types of procedures: bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell donation.

During bone marrow donation, the collection of stem cells is taken from the iliac crest (the curved edge at the top of the pelvic bone). The patient is under general anesthetic so the patient does not experience any pain.

The peripheral blood stem cell donation is a non-surgical procedure which does not require any anesthetic and should not cause any pain.

Myth #2: Stem cell donation is painful.

Stem cell donation should not be painful. A peripheral blood stem cell donation does not involve anesthetic whereas the bone marrow procedure will. For bone marrow donation, the donor does not experience any pain because of the anesthesia.

Myth #3: Stem cell donation involves a lengthy recovery.

Bone marrow donors may feel some soreness in their lower back for a few days. Most donors will be back to their normal activities within a few days.

Donors who do the peripheral blood stem cell donation may experience some side effects but will disappear after donating.

Myth #4: If I donate stem cells, they cannot be replaced.

This is false. The body naturally replaces stem cells within six weeks.

Myth #5: I come from a large family, so if I ever need a stem cell transplant, I should have no problem finding a match within my family.

False. Finding a match can be complicated.  Less than 25% of those in need can receive a transplant from someone in their own family.

Myth #6: Stem cell research is opposed by religious people.

Some religious people are against the research in embryonic stem cells. But, others believe that stem cell research has potential benefits and will reduce human suffering.

Myth #7: Stem cells only come from embryos.

This is false. Stem cells can be found in an adult's body in places like muscle tissue, organs, bone marrow and fat.

Myth #8: Bone marrow is the best source of stem cells.

This is false. Stem cells can be found in many different types of the body like muscle tissue, organs and fat.

Next time in the Stem Cell blog series, we will learn more about donor registries.



About Mai Smith

Hi! I’m Mai and I am a candidate at Tufts University School of Medicine for a Masters in Public Health concentrating in global health. I am originally from Japan but grew up in California and moved to Boston about a year ago so I am still adjusting to the East Coast way of life!

I completed my undergraduate work at the University of Utah where I received a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Education with a concentration in community health with a minor in child development and family studies. After my Masters in Public Health, I plan to pursue a Masters in Social Work to combine my public health background with social work to help vulnerable communities and families. My background includes working with refugees and asylum seekers, parents with drug addictions, those with severe mental illness and women seeking mental health guidance. I am particularly interested in resiliency and the long term outcomes associated with family dynamics. I am very excited to be a part of the CC intern team and to learn more about the CC community.

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