Bleeding after a blood and marrow transplant

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Information for parents about bleeding, a possible complication which may occur after a child's blood and marrow transplant (BMT).

Key points

  • Chemotherapy and radiation treatment destroy platelets, which form blood clots.
  • The most common problem is nosebleeds.
  • Platelet and haemoglobin cells will be monitored daily and a transfusion may be given if counts are too low.

Before your child’s transplant, they are treated with chemotherapy and radiation to destroy the diseased bone marrow cells. The treatment also destroys a type of blood cell that prevents heavy bleeding, called platelets. Platelets make blood clot to close up wounds at a site of injury or cut on the body. When our bodies do not have enough platelets, we are more prone to bleeding.

Where does bleeding occur?

Bleeding can occur from any part of the body. The most common problem is nosebleeds. If your child has a nosebleed, your nurse will help your child to stop the bleeding.

How is it treated?

Your child’s nurse will monitor the amount of platelet or haemoglobin cells in your child every day. If either count is too low, the nurse will give your child a transfusion of platelets or red blood cells. This is very common after the transplant procedure, and your child may need platelet transfusions every few days.

Pressure to the bleeding area can also help. If there is a serious nosebleed, an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon will pack a type of gauze around your child’s nose to stop the bleeding.

Last updated: January 6th 2010