Donation of donor leukocytes

White blood cells, also called leukocytes whichcontribute to fighting off infections.

What is the harvest of donor leukocytes

In the bloodstream there is:

  • Red blood cells, which transport oxygen to the body.
  • White blood cells, also called leukocytes which contribute to fighting off infections
  • Platelets that help stop bleedings

Some of the white cells also contributes to fighting off bone marrow cells and blood cells, which are foreign to them. This is used in cases where a former stem cell transplanted patient is relapsed of his malignant blood disease. Administration of donor leukocytes may then defeat the diseased marrow of the patient. These donor leukocytes can be harvested directly from the bloodstream in a so-called leukapheresis machine.

Pre-interview/preliminary examination before donation of leukocytes

You will be called for a pre-interview / preliminary examination with a doctor and nurse in the stem cell- section, the blood bank section KI 2034. Here you will be informed about the procedure for harvesting leukocytes.

Before you can donate leukocytes, we need to be sure you are healthy. The pre-interview / preliminary examination usually lasts approx. ½ day and includes:

  • Conversation with doctor
  • Recording of a journal
  • Regular medical examination, where you for example will be listened to on the heart and lungs and get your blood pressure measured
  • X-ray of the lungs
  • Cardiogram (Heart)  (ECG)
  • You will have blood tests made to make sure your blood values are normal, it should especially be mentioned that an HIV test is required by law
  • Women under the age of 50 receive pregnancy tests
  • The nurse will show you the room where the harvesting of leukocytes takes place and go through the procedure with you
  • The nurse will evaluate your blood vessels/ veins in both arms.
  • If your blood vessels are very small, it may be necessary to place a catheter in a vein in the thorax below the collar bone or in the throat. This procedure is harmless, and the catheter is brought in a local anesthesia by an experienced anesthetist shortly before harvesting leukocytes.

However, the extent of the examination may depend on how long it is since you donated stem cells.

Harvesting of donor leukocytes

Normally harvesting is on 1 day, but in some cases it can be one more day. You will meet at approx. 8.00 (to be agreed with the nurse during a pre-interview / preliminary examination) and it is important that you have eaten and drunk before you come.

Your blood is, via a cannula in one arm, led down into a centrifuge band, where the blood is separated by centrifugation so that the leukocytes are collected in a bag, while the red blood cells and the blood fluid (plasma) are returned to you via a needle in the other arm.

Your blood is added to a liquid, citrate, to prevent it from solidifying. This fluid binds calcium molecules in the bloodstream so that your calcium content in the blood drops temporarily. Symptoms are the tingling / twitching of the lips. To prevent these symptoms, we connect a calcium infusion throughout the harvest. The harvest lasts about 3 hours.

It is a good idea to bring reading material and possibly mp3 player or similar music. TV is available. You are welcome to bring your relatives and you can eat and drink while the harvest takes place (we have drinks including coffee / tea).

It is not possible to go to the toilet during the procedure, so you are encouraged to go to the toilet before we start and in addition there will urinal/bedpan available.

After the harvest you may feel tired. If you live near Rigshospitalet you can stay  at home. Otherwise we can arrange for you to stay at the patient hotel. We do not recommend that you drive yourself after the harvest.

Coverage of expenses and lost earnings

In connection with the pre-interview, preliminary examination and harvest compensation is granted for:

  • Loss of earnings. Please note that there must be paychecks for 3 months and calculation from the employer on the amount
  • Transport expenses. Remember to save original tickets / receipts

No compensation is granted for:

  • Meals
  • Taxi service, unless there is a medical reason from the hospital.

See more information on reimbursement in the folder: ”Covering expenses and lost earnings”.


As a donor, you are insured according to the Act on Patient Insurance. We must, according to the legislation in the field, state that the cell product, if not safely used for the patient, will be discarded.