Previous research has begun to delineate the complicated reactions experienced by bone marrow and stem cell donors. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of the donor-recipient relationship on the related donor's emotional reactions. Twenty-eight adult stem cell donors completed questionnaires before donation, 30 days post stem cell infusion, and 1 year after infusion. Questionnaires addressed the donor-recipient relationship, depression, mood, guilt and responsibility, self-esteem, ambivalence about donation and reactions to the donation itself. Results indicated that most donors reported little ambivalence about donation, and their reactions to the donation itself were generally positive. Closer and more positive donor-recipient relationships were associated with less anticipated guilt and responsibility if the transplant did not work. The relationships between the donor and the recipient did not change over time. Mood disturbance and depression were low overall, not related to the donor-recipient relationship, and did not significantly change over time. These results indicate that related stem cell donors are generally without significant emotional distress, and are comfortable with the donation process. Further, a more positive relationship with the recipient may help donors to avoid feeling guilty and responsible if the transplant does not work.
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