Children with immune deficiencies and blood and marrow transplant

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Learn about blood and marrow transplants, for a child with an immune deficiency.

Key points

  • Children with primary immune deficiencies will receive extra medication and care before the procedure to prevent infection.
  • Extra restrictions will be in place while a child with a PID is in the protective isolation room.

Your child may be receiving a blood and marrow transplant​ (BMT) because he has a chronic illness caused by hereditary or genetic defects in the immune systems. These diseases are called primary immune deficiencies (PID). There are over 150 forms of PID. Some are mild, some are severe.

Your child receives a BMT because they have a severe form of PID.

The immune system protects our bodies from germs such as bacteria and viruses that cause infections. People with PID do not have properly working immune systems. Often, they do not make enough antibodies, which fight off these germs. The result is infections that last a long time, frequently come back, and are hard to treat.

Will there be any differences to my child’s care?

Your child’s care is similar to the care given to other kids having a transplant. However, there a few differences, outlined below.

Your child’s treatment before their transplant

It is very important to protect your child from infection. The hospital will do this by:

  • putting your child in a laminar air flow (LAF) room. This is a special room in hospitals that has parallel floating panels, which circulate filtered air. It reduces the risk of your child being exposed to air-borne pathogens.
  • giving intravenous (IV) gamma globulin to help prevent infections
  • giving antibiotic therapy to treat or prevent infections

Will these procedures protect your child from all infections?

Your child may still face some infections until his immune system is working well after their transplant. The healthcare team will help your child by:

  • treating these infections with appropriate anti-infective medicines.
  • making changes in their diet, good skin care
  • giving extra oxygen if required.

What changes will there be to your child’s isolation routine?

Along with strict hand-washing and cleaning that is necessary while your child is in isolation, visitors and staff need to be more careful when taking care of children with PID.

In addition to a gown, anyone entering the LAF room must wear a mask, hat, boots, and sterile gloves. The gown comes in a sterile package with a sterile towel for drying hands. The mask, hat, and boots are clean and kept in containers, while the sterile gloves come in a package.

Your child bathes in sterile water and only has sterile linen in the room. You can bring clothes from home that have been washed separately in hot water and wrapped in a doubled clean bag. These clothes, as well as other supplies and equipment that come into the room, are not sterilized.

Only parents are allowed to visit their child. Other visitors are only allowed when the parents cannot be there, and need to arrange alternate care. Usually the visiting rules are very strict and parents are only allowed one to two alternative caregivers.

Last updated: March 25th 2010