Bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant

Bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant

A bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant involves chemotherapy and/or radiation and replacement of the damaged bone marrow or cancer cells by healthy blood stem cells.

Key points to remember

This page is part of a whole section about childhood cancer.

  • a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant is a 2-step process
  • first, your child will have chemotherapy and/or radiation to destroy damaged bone marrow or cancer cells
  • then they will have an infusion of healthy blood stem cells - this replaces damaged bone marrow or cancer cells 

What is a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant?

A bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant is a 2-step process:

  1. Chemotherapy and/or radiation to destroy damaged bone marrow or cancer cells
  2. Replacement of the damaged bone marrow or cancer cells by healthy blood stem cells

Blood stem cells are immature blood cells in the bone marrow. As they mature they are responsible for forming the blood and immune system (infection-fighting system). They are available in bone marrow, peripheral blood and the cord blood of newborn babies.

The healthy blood stem cells can come from:

  • a child's own blood or bone marrow - doctors can collect the blood stem cells during a period of remission and store them for later transplantation, or
  • a compatible family member, or
  • an unrelated compatible donor

If your child is going to have a blood stem cell transplant, your child's healthcare team will give you detailed information.

All the pages in the childhood cancer section of this website have been written by health professionals who work in the field of paediatric oncology. They have been reviewed by the members of the National Child Cancer Network (NZ). Medical information is authorised by the clinical leader of the National Child Cancer Network.

This page last reviewed 09 August 2018.
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