Bone marrow transplant

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An operation to replace damaged bone marrow

A bone marrow transplant involves replacing damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow

About

You might need to have a bone marrow transplant if you have aplastic anaemia, leukaemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and specific genetic blood and immune disorders. Our procedures include both autologous transplants (from your body) and allogenic transplants (from a donor's body).

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    Whether you're using your own stem cells or cells from a donor, the general process is the same:

    - You have chemotherapy or radiotherapy to reduce the cancer
    - Stem cells are collected from either you or you donor
    - You have high-dose therapy to remove the remaining cancer cells
    - You receive the stem cells via infusion

    Each part of the process takes a specific amount time. Some parts are done under general anaesthetic, others under local anaesthetic. For some stages of this treatment you don't need anaesthetic at all. Your consultant will explain each step to you before you start the process.

  • How to prepare icon plus

    You'll have a series of tests and examinations to assess your general level of health leading up to the procedure. These test might include X-rays and blood tests. Your consultant will tell you what to expect and how to prepare for these.

    If your bone marrow is being used, you may be given medication for four to five days before your treatment, to increase the number of stem cells released into your blood stream.

    Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.

  • Afterwards icon plus

    After infusion, the stem cells attach themselves to your bone marrow and start to make new blood cells. This takes at least two weeks to start happening.

    You'll need to stay in hospital for some time after your infusion as you'll have a very low resistance to infection. This is usually between one and three months.

    If you had donated stem cells transplanted, you'll usually need to take medicines to suppress your immune system slightly so that it doesn't attack these new cells.

    When your blood cell levels recover you can go home but you'll still be vulnerable to infection. Your consultant will explain any health precautions you need to take.

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Consultant in theatres

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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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