Siblings as donors

If you have a son or daughter who is a matched bone marrow donor for your child with CGD, there are special considerations to take into account. The donor child may feel pressurised to donate and frightened about the procedure and what lies ahead. They may also carry an overwhelming sense of responsibility for their sibling’s well-being and survival. Throughout, your clinical nurse specialist should coordinate support for your child regarding their role as a bone marrow donor.

Our tips:

• Put in place good psychological support for your donor child before, during and after the BMT.

• Make sure they know what the donation procedure entails and check that they understand the information they are given.

• Accept all the support that the hospital offers your donor child. This will include psychological support and work with play therapists.

• The sibling donor may be frightened about donating, so offer constant reassurance and support through extra cuddles and attention throughout the BMT.

• Encourage your donor child to discuss their feelings and concerns about their role.

• The sibling donor might want to be actively involved in what happens throughout the BMT, so really keep them in the loop and consider their feelings throughout, in addition to caring for your child who is going through BMT. Being a donor creates an extra special bond between siblings, and the donor needs to feel included. However, it is also normal for sibling donors not to be interested.

• Donor children should feel extremely proud of themselves. Let them know how proud of them you are and how brave they have been.

• Donors often feel a huge sense of responsibility for how well the BMT goes. They can consider the setbacks and any problems associated with the BMT to be their fault. Make sure your child understands this is not the case.

• Having two children in hospital at the same time will be challenging. You may feel torn between them. If possible, arrange for your partner or another relative to help you with the care.