A Comparison of Related and Unrelated Marrow Donors

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The purpose of this investigation is to test whether related bone marrow donors experience more distress from marrow donation than volunteer unrelated donors.


Participants in the study were 77 related and unrelated marrow donors who agreed to complete 11 pre- and 8 postdonation self report questionnaires. Related and unrelated donors were recruited from the Bone Marrow Transplant Programs at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. Additional unrelated donors were recruited from the American Red Cross-Carolinas and the Heart of America Bone Marrow Donor Registry in Kansas City, MO.


The 41 unrelated and 36 related marrow donors who participated in this prospective study had similar demographic backgrounds and predonation questionnaire results, although related donors endorsed more items on the Beck Depression Inventory, both before and after marrow harvesting. After marrow donation, related donors reported significantly more pain than unrelated donors (p = .0001).


It is unlikely that intraoperative events alone could account for the increased pain experienced by related donors. Related donors were more likely to experience moderate to severe physical pain after marrow donation than unrelated donors, on the basis of logistic regression analysis (odds ratio = 7.63; 95% confidence interval 2.74, 23.01).

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