Autologous blood and marrow transplants

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Learn what is involved while preparing for your child's autologous transplant.

Key points

  • An autologous BMT involves using a child's own stem cells for the transplant.
  • Your child will undergo standard tests to assess how well the vital organs are working.
  • Preparation for a transplant consists of high-dose chemotherapy to kill the diseased or cancerous cells.

In an autologous blood and marrow transplant (BMT) or autologous stem cell transplant, doctors use your child’s own stem cells for the transplant.

Preparing for your child’s autologous transplant involves many steps.

You will first sit down with the primary BMT physician and nurse to discuss your child’s transplant procedure. This may be a difficult meeting while you are still dealing with your child’s diagnosis. You may feel overwhelmed with the information you are learning. It may help to bring a notebook to write down notes. Do not be afraid to ask the doctor to explain anything you do not understand.

After the initial consultation, your child’s doctor will perform standard tests to assess how well the vital organs are working. Your child may also need to take tests which are specific to the disease.

Your child’s bone marrow or stem cells will also be harvested, frozen, and stored. This is done before your child starts to prepare for the transplant.

Preparing your child's body for transplant

Your child’s body first needs to be prepared so that it is ready to take in the new, healthy marrow cells. This is called the conditioning regimen.

The purpose of conditioning your child’s body prior to the transplant is to kill the diseased or cancerous cells.

Preparation mainly consists of high-dose chemotherapy. Each treatment protocol is individualized to the child. Chemotherapy can last from four to 10 days, depending on your child’s illness.

The preparative regimen is intense and your child may experience side effects such as fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Your child’s immune system will also be very weak. This is why your child is usually hospitalized as soon as chemotherapy starts.

Compared to the conditioning regime, the actual transplant procedure itself is straight forward.

This section describes what to expect before and during the transplant procedure in more detail.

Last updated: March 5th 2010