Stem cell transplant
A stem cell or bone marrow transplant replaces damaged blood cells with healthy ones. It can be used to treat conditions affecting the blood cells, such as leukaemia and lymphoma.
Stem cells arespecial cells produced bybone marrow (aspongytissue found in the centre of some bones) that can turn into different types of blood cells.
The three maintypes of blood cellthey can become are:
A stem cell transplant involves destroying any unhealthy blood cells and replacing them with stem cells removed from the blood or bone marrow.
Stem cell transplants are used to treat conditions in which the bone marrow is damaged and is no longer able to produce healthy blood cells.
Transplants can also be carried out to replace blood cells that are damaged or destroyed as a result of intensive cancer treatment.
Conditions that stem cell transplants can be used to treat include:
A stem cell transplant will usually only be carried out if other treatments haven't helped, the potential benefits of a transplant outweigh the risks and you're in relatively good health, despite your underlying condition.
A stem cell transplant can involve taking healthy stem cells from the blood or bone marrow of one person ideally a close family member with the same or similar tissue type (see below) and transferring them to another person. This is called an allogeneic transplant.
It's also possible to remove stem cells from your own body and transplant them later, after any damaged or diseased cells have been removed. This is called an autologous transplant.
Astem celltransplant has five main stages. These are:
Having a stem cell transplant can be an intensive and challenging experience. You'll usually need to stay in hospital fora month or more until the transplant starts to take effect and itcan takea year or two to fully recover.
It's important that you're aware of both the risks and possible benefits before treatment begins.
Possible problems that can occur during or after the transplant process include:
If there are no matches in your close family,a search of the British Bone Marrow Registry will be carried out.
Most peoplewill eventually find a donor in the registry,although a small number of people may find it very hard or impossibleto find a suitable match.
Read about stem cell or bone marrow transplants, including why they're used, what's involved, and what the potential risks are.
Read about what a stem cell or bone marrow transplant involves, including how stem cells are removed and how long you'll need to stay in hospital.
Read about the main risks associated with stem cell or bone marrow transplants, including the risk of rejection and the side effects of the treatments involved.