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Transplantation Process

Originally, the autologous (meaning "from one's own") stem cells were collected from the bone marrow, hence the term bone marrow transplant. Due to advancing technology, the necessary cells can now be collected from the blood stream in a procedure called apheresis, rather than from the bone marrow itself. 

  • Typically, one to three apheresis procedures are done to collect enough cells for the transplant.
  • Once the stem cells are collected, they are processed and stored by the American Red Cross Stem Cell Laboratory

After recovery from collection
, the patient receives a high dose chemotherapy regimen to destroy cancerous cells and attain a remission.

  • This regimen is generally given over 2 to 8 days, depending on the treatment protocol prescribed by the transplant physician. 

After the chemotherapy is completed
and cleared from the body, the autologous stem cells are infused into the patient's blood stream, much like a blood transfusion. 

  • The high dose chemotherapy will cause the blood counts to drop to very low levels for about 7 to 12 days. 
  • During this time, the transplant physician and transplant team work closely with the patient and family to control or prevent side effects and protect the patient from complications. 

Approximately 10 - 12 days after the stem cells have been infused
, the blood counts begin to recover and side effects from the high dose chemotherapy begin to resolve.