Patients’ Main Concerns About Having a Sibling Stem Cell Donor – A Grounded Theory Study

Annika M Kisch1, 2, *, Anna Forsberg3
1 Department of Haematology, Skåne University hospital, S-221 85 Lund, Sweden
2 Institute of Health Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
3 Department of Thoracic Surgery, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, S-221 85 Lund, Sweden

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© 2018 Kisch et al.

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 author at the Department of Haematology, Skåne University hospital, Annika M Kisch, S-221 85 Lund, Sweden; Tel: +46-46-176133 / +46-708-211373; E-mail:



There is limited knowledge about the perspective of patients undergoing allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) about having a sibling as donor. It is essential to understand the main concerns of stem cell recipients in order to enable nurses to provide person-centred care.


The study aim was to explore patients’ main concerns about having a sibling stem cell donor and how the patients handle them, from immediately before until one year after transplantation.


Twenty-eight interviews were performed prospectively during one year with ten adult sibling stem cell recipients with a mean age of 52 years (range 19-68 years). The interviews were analyzed by the Grounded Theory method.


The core category Recompensation summarises the process in the generated grounded theory including the three main categories; Invest, Compensate and Celebrate. Recompensation is defined as a lasting compensation given by the recipient to the sibling donor for the loss or harm suffered or effort made. The sense of having to reward, protect, appreciate, maintain peace and work on the relationship with the sibling donor at the same time as having to accept a serious illness, cope with their situation and promote their own recovery is strenuous for the recipients.


The main concern for stem cell recipients during their first post-transplant year is to recompensate the sibling donor by investing, compensating and celebrating her/him. Although there is a positive aspect of recompensation, it can also imply pressure and guilt.

Keywords: Allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Sibling donor, HSCT, Interviews, Qualitative study, Grounded Theory.