All Medical Procedures

If you are planning to donate blood and bone marrow, you've agreed to allow doctors to draw blood stem cells from your blood or bone marrow for transplantation. Blood stem cells are the cells that make all of the body's blood cells. They form and mature in the bone marrow, and are then released into the bloodstream. Although they're called "stem cells," these cells aren't the same as the embryonic stem cells studied in therapeutic cloning and other types of research.

In the past, surgery to draw marrow from the bone was the only way to collect blood stem cells. Today, however, it's more common to collect blood stem cells directly from the blood. This is called peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation.

Blood stem cells can also be collected from umbilical cord blood at birth. However, only a small amount of blood can be retrieved from the umbilical cord, so this type of transplant is generally reserved for children and small adults.

A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test used to evaluate your overall health and detect a wide range of disorders, including anemia, infection and leukemia.

A complete blood count test measures several components and features of your blood, including:

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen
  • White blood cells, which fight infection
  • Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells
  • Hematocrit, the proportion of red blood cells to the fluid component, or plasma, in your blood
  • Platelets, which help with blood clotting

Abnormal increases or decreases in cell counts as revealed in a complete blood count may indicate that you have an underlying medical condition that calls for further evaluation.

A ferritin test measures the amount of ferritin in your blood. Ferritin is a blood cell protein that contains iron. A ferritin test helps your doctor understand how much iron your body is storing.

If a ferritin test reveals that your blood ferritin level is lower than normal, it indicates your body's iron stores are low and you have iron deficiency.

If a ferritin test shows higher than normal levels, it could indicate that you have a condition that causes your body to store too much iron. It could also point to liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, other inflammatory conditions or hyperthyroidism. Some types of cancer also may cause your blood ferritin level to be high.

Hematocrit (he-MAT-uh-krit) is the proportion of your total blood volume that is composed of red blood cells. A hematocrit (Hct) test indicates whether you have too few or too many red blood cells — conditions that can occur as the result of certain diseases. Red blood cells, or erythrocytes (uh-RITH-roe-sites), transport oxygen throughout your body.

A hematocrit test is done using a sample of your blood. A lab technician puts the sample in a device called a centrifuge that spins the blood very quickly in a test tube. This motion separates your blood into three parts: the fluid component (plasma), red blood cells and other blood cells. When the blood is separated, the technician can determine what proportion of the cells are red blood cells. Hematocrit is also called packed-cell volume (PCV).

In hemodialysis, a machine filters wastes, salts and fluid from your blood when your kidneys are no longer healthy enough to do this work adequately. Hemodialysis is the most common way to treat advanced kidney failure. The procedure can help you carry on an active life despite failing kidneys.

Hemodialysis requires you to follow a strict treatment schedule, take medications regularly and, usually, make changes in your diet.

Hemodialysis is a serious responsibility, but you don't have to shoulder it alone. You'll work closely with your health care team, including a kidney specialist and other professionals with experience managing hemodialysis. You may be able to do hemodialysis at home.

Peritoneal (per-ih-toe-NEE-ul) dialysis is another way to remove waste products from your blood when your kidneys can no longer do the job adequately. During peritoneal dialysis, blood vessels in your abdominal lining (peritoneum) fill in for your kidneys, with the help of a cleansing fluid that flows into and out of the peritoneal space.

A hemoglobin test measures the amount of hemoglobin in your blood.

Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body's organs and tissues and transports carbon dioxide from your organs and tissues back to your lungs.

If a hemoglobin test reveals that your hemoglobin level is lower than normal, it means you have a low red blood cell count (anemia). Anemia can have many different causes, including vitamin deficiencies, bleeding and chronic diseases.

If a hemoglobin test shows a higher than normal level, there are several potential causes — the blood disorder polycythemia vera, living at a high altitude, smoking, dehydration, burns and excessive vomiting.

A prothrombin time test measures how quickly your blood clots. Sometimes called a pro time test or PT test, a prothrombin time test uses a sample of your blood.

Prothrombin is a protein produced by your liver that helps your blood to clot. When you bleed, a series of chemicals (clotting factors) activate in a stepwise fashion. The end result is a clot which stops the bleeding. One step in the process is prothrombin turning into another protein called thrombin. The prothrombin time test measures how well the clotting process works and how long it takes to occur.

Sed rate, or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), is a blood test that can reveal inflammatory activity in your body. A sed rate test isn't a stand-alone diagnostic tool, but it may help your doctor diagnose or monitor the progress of an inflammatory disease.

When your blood is placed in a tall, thin tube, red blood cells (erythrocytes) gradually settle to the bottom. Inflammation can cause the cells to clump together. Because these clumps of cells are denser than individual cells, they settle to the bottom more quickly.

The sed rate test measures the distance red blood cells fall in a test tube in one hour. The farther the red blood cells have descended, the greater the inflammatory response of your immune system.

A stem cell transplant — also called a blood or marrow transplant — is the injection or infusion of healthy stem cells into your body to replace damaged or diseased stem cells.

A stem cell transplant may be necessary if your bone marrow stops working and doesn't produce enough healthy stem cells.

This procedure also may be performed if high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy is given in the treatment of blood disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma or sickle cell anemia.

A stem cell transplant can help your body make enough healthy white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets, and reduce your risk of life-threatening infections, anemia and bleeding.

Although the procedure to replenish your body's supply of healthy blood-forming cells is generally called a stem cell transplant, it's also known as a bone marrow transplant, peripheral blood stem cell transplant or an umbilical cord blood transplant, depending on the source of the stem cells.

Stem cell transplants can use cells from your own body (autologous stem cell transplant), from a donor (allogeneic stem cell transplant) or from an identical twin (syngeneic transplant).