Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant

Also known as Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant, Hematopoietic Cell Transplant, Autologous Transplant, Allogeneic Transplant
A blood or bone marrow transplant replaces abnormal blood-forming stem cells with healthy cells
Overview

When the healthy stem cells come from you, the procedure is called an autologous transplant. When the stem cells come from another person, called a donor, it is an allogeneic transplant. Blood or bone marrow transplants most commonly are used to treat blood cancers or other kinds of blood diseases that decrease the number of healthy blood cells in the body. These transplants also may be used to treat other disorders.

For allogeneic transplants, your doctor will try to find a donor whose blood cells are the best match for you. Your doctor will consider using cells from your close family members, from people who are not related to you and who have registered with the National Marrow Donor Program, or from publicly stored umbilical cord blood. Although it is best to find a donor who is an exact match to you, new transplant procedures are making it possible to use donors who are not an exact match.

Blood or bone marrow transplants are usually performed in a hospital. Often, you must stay in the hospital for one to two weeks before the transplant to prepare. During this time, you will have a narrow tube placed in one of your large veins. You may be given medicine to make you sleepy for this procedure. You also will receive special medicines and possibly radiation to destroy your abnormal stem cells and to weaken your immune system so that it won’t reject the donor cells after the transplant.

On the day of the transplant, you will be awake and may get medicine to relax you during the procedure. The stem cells will be given to you through the narrow tube in your vein. The stem cells will travel through your blood to your bone marrow, where they will begin making new healthy blood cells.

After the transplant, your doctor will check your blood counts every day to see if new blood cells have started to grow in your bone marrow. Depending on the type of transplant, you may be able to leave, but stay near the hospital, or you may need to remain in the hospital for weeks or months. The length of time will depend on how your immune system is recovering and whether or not the transplanted cells stay in your body. Before you leave the hospital, the doctors will give you detailed instructions that you must follow to prevent infection and other complications. Your doctor will keep monitoring your recovery, possibly for up to one year.

Although blood or bone marrow transplant is an effective treatment for some conditions, the procedure can cause early or late complications. The required medicines and radiation can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, mouth sores, skin rashes, hair loss, or liver damage. These treatments also can weaken your immune system and increase your risk for infection. Some people may experience a serious complication called graft-versus-host disease if the donated stem cells attack the body. Other people may reject the donor stem cells after the transplant, which can be an extremely serious complication.

Visit Blood-Forming Stem Cell Transplants for more information about this topic.

Participate in NHLBI Clinical Trials

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) leads or sponsors many studies aimed at preventing, diagnosing, and treating heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders.

Do you or your child have sickle cell disease and an interest in donating bone marrow for research?

This study will collect bone marrow from patients who have sickle cell disease or β-thalassemia to help develop gene therapies. To participate in this study, you must be at least 2 years old and have sickle cell disease or β-thalassemia. You may continue regular treatments while participating in the study. This study is located in Memphis, Tennessee.
View more information about Bone Marrow for Hemoglobinopathy Research.

Are you 15 to 40 years old with severe sickle cell disease?

This study is comparing long-term outcomes for patients who receive blood and bone marrow transplants and those who receive standard treatment with medicines. Participants also have an option of contributing blood samples to be stored for future research. Participants must be 15 to 40 years old and have severe sickle cell disease. This study is located in Madison, Wisconsin.

Do you or your child have severe sickle cell disease and also know a half-matched bone marrow donor?

This study is seeking to improve bone marrow transplantation success from half-matched donors by testing a different conditioning procedure that uses a variety of medicines to prepare for the transplant. To participate in this study, you must be 15 to 45 years old and have severe sickle cell disease or have a child 5 to 14 years old who has had a stroke. This study is located in many sites across the United States, including Miami, Florida, and St. Louis, Missouri.

Do you or your child have severe sickle cell disease and an interest in a new type of stem cell transplant?

This study is exploring whether a new type of cell infusion may increase the success of stem cell transplants in patients who have both sickle cell disease and a donor who is only a partial match. To participate in this study, you must have undergone puberty and have severe sickle cell disease. This study is located in Atlanta, Georgia.

Are you an adult who has severe sickle cell disease and also knows a stem cell donor who is a partial match?

This study is testing new ways to improve a stem cell transplant procedure that involves a donor who is not a complete match, called a partial match. To participate in this study, you must be at least 18 years old and have both severe sickle cell disease and a donor who is a partial match. This study is located in Bethesda, Maryland.

Are you at least 16 years old with sickle cell disease, and have a stem cell donor?

This study is exploring how to improve bone marrow transplant procedures so the body better accepts donor stem cells. To participate in this study, you must be at least 16 years old, have sickle cell disease, and have a stem cell donor. This study is located in Bethesda, Maryland.

Do you or your child need a stem cell transplant?

This study is exploring the use of treatment with certain medicines in combination with radiation for a successful stem cell transplant. Participants must be no more than 49 years old and have a severe disease treatable by a stem cell transplant. This study is located in several sites across the United States, including Aurora, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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