“I donated bone marrow to my colleagues”

Name: Mattias Carlsten
Does: Research group leader at the Department of Medicine at Karolinska Institutet in Huddinge.
Research participation: Has donated bone marrow for colleagues.

Mattias Carlsten is a physician and researcher and have donated bone marrow in several studies. Photo: Lindsten & Nilsson

As told to Maja Lundbäck, first published in the magazine Medicinsk Vetenskap, no 2, 2017.

“I have been a test subject in studies both in Sweden and abroad. I recently donated healthy bone marrow to my research colleagues. It’s common for doctors and researchers to volunteer as test subjects, not because it’s required or workplace culture tells you to, but it’s logistically simple – you just need to come to work a little earlier that day. Personally I have a strong drive that says I want to join in and help.

There’s almost no risk for the bone marrow donor, but the researchers can learn a lot about how a body functions when it’s healthy and when it isn’t. It only takes five minutes and when it’s been donated, that’s it. I don’t get any feedback on how my marrow looks and I think that’s good. If they were to find anything, they have to get in tough. It’s also important that subjects can rely on researchers and on the ethical system.

I’ve also been involved in studies where I’ve tried medicines, for example in the United States where I was given a drug that sent stem cells from my bone marrow into my blood. Research would suffer without healthy test subjects research would just.”I also work as a resident physician in haematology and some days take bone marrow from around 15 patients a day, so it might be good for me to see how it feels – and it can hurt a little. Younger students tend to donate bone marrow for the money: after all you get 1,000 kronor.

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