Caring for your child at home after a blood and marrow transplant

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Learn about your child's care at home, after a blood and marrow transplant.

Key points

  • It is important to thoroughly clean your home before your child returns to minimize the risk of infection.
  • Try to return to a child's usual routine as much as possible to help your child adjust.
  • Call the treatment team if you notice any abnormal symptoms such as fever, cough or cold, or changes to the skin.

While recovering from the blood and marrow transplant (BMT), your child’s immune system is still weak. Make sure to clean your home thoroughly and have everything prepared before your child returns from the hospital.

Preparing your home

While cleaning your home:

  • pay particular attention to rooms in the home where potential sources of infection may likely be, such as the kitchen or bathroom
  • dust and clean floors
  • using regular store-bought household cleaning products to clean your home is fine.

There is no need to remove your carpets or take down draperies. If you have indoor plants, make sure they are not dying, or have mold growing inside the pot or soil. Moldy or dying plants should be thrown away.

When your child returns home

Once your child is at home, a family meeting with siblings may be helpful. You can talk about what will be the same and what will be different. Talk about the new rules for play and safety. Indicate what is acceptable, and what you don’t want to see. For example, it is important to be mindful of your child’s central venous line (CVL), if they are wearing one.

Trying to return to a child’s usual routine as soon as possible may be helpful, especially around mealtime and bedtime. Your child may need extra comforting and understanding. Although you may need to make some allowances, your child will still need you to set limits. Try the methods that have helped your child cope during stressful times in the past.

Talking to your child

It is important that parents talk to their children about what happened in the hospital after they return home.

For younger children, conversation and questions occur during play. Children may want to operate, put bandages on stuffed animals, give needles, or act out other experiences they had in the hospital. Your child may want to draw pictures about their hospital stay or continue to play with hospital equipment such as stethoscopes, tongue depressors, masks, and name bracelets. While your child plays, you may learn about any wrong ideas or questions they may have. You can talk about these together.

Older children often have dreams or nightmares about their stay in the hospital. Encourage your child to talk about these dreams to help them understand what happened in the hospital.

Cleaning your home

It is important to keep your home clean while your child is at home recovering from the BMT. At the same time, you do not need to be as strict as when your child was in isolation. For example, it is alright to wash your child’s dishes and eating utensils with the family dishes.

While cleaning, remember to:

  • vacuum and dust the house at least once a week
  • wash bed linens, bathroom towels and pajamas at least once every week. You can wash your child’s clothes with the family laundry
  • only use humidifiers if you clean them every day

When to call the treatment team

If you notice any of the following symptoms, call your child’s doctor or nurse.

  • Oral temperature higher than 38.5ºC. Remember to not give your child acetaminophen​ (Tylenol®).
  • Cough or cold symptoms
  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal cramps
  • Changes to the skin. For example, painful blisters or a rash on the palms of the hands or soles of feet.
  • A yellow colour to the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Unusual or sudden bleeding from the mouth, nose, urine or stool
  • Urinating infrequently
  • Changes in colour or odour of urine
  • Dry mouth or dry skin
Last updated: March 19th 2010