The Core of Sibling Stem Cell Donation – A Grounded Theory Study

Annika M Kisch1, *, Anna Forsberg2
1 Department of Haematology, Skåne University hospital, Lund, Sweden
2 Lund University, Inst of Health Sciences and Department of Thoracic Surgery, Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden

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© 2017 Kisch and Forsberg.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this authors at the Department of Haematology, Skåne University hospital, Lund, S-221 85 Lund, Sweden, Tel: +46-46-176133 / +46-46-172318 / +46-708-211373; Fax: +46-46-176021; E-mail:



There is a lack of theoretical framework supporting stem cell transplant nurses in their assessment, judgment and caring interventions of sibling stem cell donors.


The purpose of this study was to explore sibling stem cell donors’ main concerns and how they deal with them before and after donation.


Ten healthy sibling donors, 5 men and 5 women, with a median age of 54 years were included in this study when they were due to donate stem cells to a brother or sister. Data were collected prospectively on three occasions (before the donation and three and twelve months after it) through in-depth interviews, which were recorded and transcribed verbatim for analysis by the Grounded Theory method according to Charmaz.


This study describes the efforts of the ten donors to fulfil their duty as a sibling by doing what they considered necessary in order to help. Their efforts were summarised in a process wherein the grounded theory generated three main categories; Prepare, Promote and Preserve. A clear path of transition leading to fulfilment is evident, starting before the donation and continuing for one year afterwards.


Being a sibling stem cell donor means doing what you have to do to fulfil your duty and if possible, saving the life of a seriously ill brother or sister. The relationship between the siblings is strengthened by the donation process. Sibling stem cell donation appears to be about fulfilment and the theoretical framework may support clinicians in their evaluation and support of donors.

Keywords: Stem cell donation, Sibling, Transition, Qualitative study, Interviews, Grounded Theory, Charmaz.