Harvests from bone marrow donors who weigh less than their recipients are associated with a significantly increased probability of a suboptimal harvest yield

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Previous studies have demonstrated the importance of bone marrow (BM) harvest yield in determining transplant outcomes, but little is known regarding donor and procedure variables associated with achievement of an optimal yield. We hypothesized that donor demographics and variables relating to the procedure were likely to impact the yield (total nucleated cells [TNCs]/kg recipient weight) and quality (TNCs/mL) of the harvest.


To test our hypothesis, BM harvests of 110 consecutive unrelated donors were evaluated. The relationship between donor or procedure characteristics and the BM harvest yield was examined.


The relationship between donor and recipient weight significantly influenced the harvest yield; only 14% of BM harvests from donors who weighed less than their recipient achieved a TNC count of more than 4 × 108/kg compared to 56% of harvests from donors heavier than their recipient (p = 0.001). Higher-volume harvests were significantly less likely to achieve an optimal yield than lower-volume harvests (32% vs. 78%; p = 0.007), and higher-volume harvests contained significantly fewer TNCs/mL, indicating peripheral blood contamination. BM harvest quality also varied significantly between collection centers adding to recent concerns regarding maintenance of BM harvest expertise within the transplant community.


Since the relationship between donor and recipient weight has a critical influence yield, we recommend prioritizing this secondary donor characteristic when selecting from multiple well-matched donors. Given the declining number of requests for BM harvests, it is crucial that systems are developed to train operators and ensure expertise in this procedure is retained.

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