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White Blood Cell Donations

Every healthy human being has white blood cells (WBC) in their blood that are essential in fighting off infections, especially bacterial and fungal infections.

Sometimes, treatments and therapies used to fight cancer reduce the white blood cells in a patient to such a low level, it is impossible for them to successfully control infections on their own. In those cases, the physicians may order white cell transfusions from other healthy people.

Donating white blood cells is unlike giving blood, plasma, platelets or red blood cells and is a more involved procedure. In this situation, the donor must go through a different, longer process to donate white cells only which are then transfused into the patient, helping them with the ability to fight infections.

The patient’s family and friends will be asked to donate and recruit WBC donors. The first step for a potential WBC donor is to complete an automated platelet donation. In this way, the donor is screened and other tests are conducted that will tell the doctor if they are a viable white cell donor for the patient in need.

How Do I Find Donors?

Reaching out to your own community is the best and most effective way to find donors for your family member. Other families have found successful ways to recruit donors. 

Here are some donor recruitment suggestions:

  1. Create a compelling letter explaining your family member's situation.
  2. Reach out to everyone you can via email and see if they have connections in the Greater Houston area and have them help by getting pre-screened . When you connect with a local person you can ask them to reach out to their community on your behalf.
  3. Social media: Examples include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Care Pages.
  4. Your social affiliations: corporation, civic organization, religion or education.
  5. Local embassy (if from a different country).
  6. Create a community flier and post around your local area. MD Anderson is not able to post any fliers.

Helpful Documents


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center