Typically, blood progenitor cells (BPCs) obtained through collection of your peripheral blood stem cells are used for an autologous BMT. Less often, your bone marrow will be harvested. You may recover your blood counts more quickly if you do not have anesthesia when your peripheral blood stem cells are collected.
Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Collection
As you read earlier, blood progenitor cells (BPCs) circulate in your bloodstream. They appear to be just like the stem cells found in your bone marrow, and they are capable of repopulating damaged bone marrow and restoring the process of blood cell growth and development (hematopoiesis).
The BPC procedure is not painful, but takes three to four hours and will need to be done for one to five days on an outpatient basis. The registered nurse who will care for you during the process will explain the collection procedure to you.
How to Prepare
Prior to the collection procedure, you will be given a medication called growth factor, which causes your bone marrow to increase its production of BPCs. These cells will be collected, preserved and given back to you after your conditioning regimen of chemotherapy and/or radiation.
To prepare for your BPC collection, it’s important that you maintain good nutrition. Calcium-containing foods, such as milk or milk products, are good choices, unless you have been told otherwise. Avoid fatty and high-cholesterol foods.
What to Expect
On the day of your BPC collection, you will report to Admissions, just as you have for your previous visits. You may be asked to go to the Hematology Neuro-Oncology Center first or you may be asked to go directly to the Apheresis Unit.
Wear comfortable clothing that allows easy access to your long-term IV catheter. You are welcome to bring a friend or family member with you for company. You will be free to read, write, knit, etc. The Apheresis Unit has a TV, computer and CD player. You may wish to bring your favorite CDs. Lunch will be provided, but if you prefer to do so, you may bring your own food.
BPCs are collected through your long-term IV catheter. First, the nurse will help you get comfortable in a bed or chair. Then, your catheter will be connected to the tubing of a leukapheresis machine, which draws blood from one tube of the catheter and returns it to your body through the other. The machine has a special feature called a centrifuge that spins the blood to separate and collect your BPCs as it passes through.
Because the procedure returns your blood at the same rate that it is drawn, it is unlikely that your vital signs will change. However, your blood pressure may become low and you may feel lightheaded; if so, tell the nurse. You will be monitored closely and should this occur, it can be readily relieved.
A small amount of an anticoagulant is added to your blood as it is drawn into the machine to keep it from clotting. The anticoagulant removes calcium from your blood and you may feel a tingling sensation in your fingers, toes or around your mouth. This is harmless, but the tingling may continue for a few hours after the collection. A few Tums® usually provide relief.
If you have any questions regarding this procedure, please discuss them with your attending physician.