Allogeneic bone marrow or stem cell transplant

An allogeneic stem cell transplant, also known as a bone marrow transplant, is used to treat blood cancers and disorders using matched donor cells

About allogeneic transplants

Transplantation is the transfer of living tissue or organs from one part of the body to another from one individual to another.  When stem cells are donated by another person (a donor), it is called an allogeneic transplant or an allograft.  An allogeneic transplant or allograft involves the infusion of bone marrow or stem cells where people have similar genetic tissue.

Depending on the type of treatment you are having, the transplant works by delivering high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to destroy any remaining diseased or malignant cells in your body. The high-dose treatment is given to increase the probability of the disease responding to treatment, but in doing so it destroys both cancer cells and healthy blood cells.  The cells in the bone marrow are especially affected, resulting in decreased numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, which increases the chance of infection, anaemia and bleeding.

The transfer of bone marrow or stem cells provides you with a source of healthy bone marrow, which will also help you to recover from the effects of the high-dose treatment.  It essentially ‘rescues’ you with new bone marrow or stem cell tissue, which travels to the bone marrow spaces in your bones, grows and begins to produce new blood cells.  This engraftment (growth) is reflected in your blood counts, which should gradually increase over several weeks.  

What happens when you have an allogeneic transplant

  • Stages of treatment icon plus

    Collecting stem cells from your donor 

    Blood tests or ‘tissue typing’ will have been performed in order to select a high match donor. This may be from a sibling or close relative or from an unrelated donor who has chosen to donate to The British Bone Marrow Registry. Sometimes there may be a wait to find a good unrelated donor match.  There are two ways of collecting stem cells from the donor; bone marrow harvesting and stem cell harvesting.  

    High-dose chemotherapy 

    In the first stage of treatment you will receive high-dose chemotherapy and or radiotherapy, also called conditioning chemotherapy/radiotherapy.  This chemotherapy destroys as many cancer cells as possible that are still in your body after you have completed your standard-dose treatment.  Unfortunately, it also destroys other blood cells, significantly reducing your blood count (the levels of blood cells in your blood).  Your team will see you every day and monitor you closely during the high-dose treatment.

    Allogeneic transplantation 

    The next step is to receive your donor’s bone marrow or stem cells through a cannula, this is similar to a blood or platelet transfusion.  Your new source of stem cells will take approximately 10-21 days to establish and begin to develop (depending on the treatment you received).  

  • How to prepare icon plus

    You will need a number of tests to make sure that you are ready for your allogeneic stem cell transplant. 

    These may include:

    • Routine blood tests
    • MUGA (multiple gated acquisition)
    • GFR (glomerular filtration rate)
    • Bone marrow aspirate and trephine
    • CT scan (computerised tomography)
    • PET scan (positron emission tomography)

    Your consultant will tell you what to expect and how to prepare for these tests. 

  • Afterwards icon plus

    As chemotherapy and radiotherapy kill the rapidly dividing cells in the bone marrow, there will be a drop in your blood count.  During this time you are particularly vulnerable to infection, bleeding and anaemia. You will need to remain in hospital during this time.  The focus of our care will be to support you and we will monitor you closely.

Allogeneic transplant consultants

This is a highly complex and specialised procedure that requires a multidisciplinary team approach, and is not suitable for all patients. 

Our expert allogeneic transplant consultants and specialist teams are highly experienced in this procedure.

Our locations

Our expert teams are two of only a few teams offering allogeneic transplants across the UK.

Contact our experienced cancer team

Any questions about our cancer services or treatment? We're happy to advise you or help you book an appointment in London, Birmingham or Manchester with a cancer specialist consultant.

Call us on 

020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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