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Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation?

Stem cells produce red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. In some cases, stem cells in your bone marrow may not be functioning well or need to be destroyed to help treat a disease. If this happens, you will need new stem cells.

During this procedure, healthy stem cells are taken from a donor's:

  • Bone marrow (bone marrow transplant or BMT)
  • Blood (peripheral blood stem cell or PBSC)

The stem cells will be injected into your vein. The new cells travel through the bloodstream to your bone cavities. It may take about a month for the donor stem cells in the bone marrow to begin to function fully. If the transplant is successful, new bone marrow cells will produce healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Stem cell transplantation may be done using:


This procedure is done if the stem cells in your bone marrow are not functioning or are deficient. This may be caused by:

  • Infection
  • Cancer (eg, leukemia , lymphoma )
  • Cancer treatment ( chemotherapy , radiation )
  • Immunodeficiency disorders
  • Severe anemia (eg, aplastic anemia )
  • Blood disorders (eg, sickle cell disease , thalassemia )

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a stem cell transplant, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Infection—until the donor blood-forming cells begin to function
  • Rejection of the donor stem cells
  • Acute graft versus host disease (when the immune cells in the donor's bone marrow attack your tissue)

Possible complications for the donor include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Stem cell transplant is usually avoided if you have:

  • Disease of the heart, lungs, liver, or kidneys
  • Diabetes

Be sure to discuss the risks with your doctor before the transplant.

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the...