Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) – also called stem cell transplantation- involves harvesting stem cells from either the patient or a donor, treating the patient with chemotherapy and sometimes radiation before infusing the collected stem cells into the patient. The stem cells make their way to the center of the bones, where they begin to grow into new blood cells, which can take two to four weeks.
There are three primary types of bone marrow transplantation:
- Autologous, which uses the patient’s own bone marrow
- Allogeneic-related, which uses genetically similar marrow from a donor who is a relative of the patient
- Allogeneic-unrelated, which uses marrow from an unrelated donor
During the procedure, a physician withdraws stem cells from either the patient or donor, administers chemotherapy and sometimes radiation to the patient, and then injects the previously collected stem cells into the patient. The stem cells make their way through the bloodstream and into the center of the bones, where they begin to grow. This process, called engrafting, can take from two to four weeks.
Depending on the type of transplant, patients may be hospitalized for a few days or up to several months. Those undergoing transplants are hospitalized in special rooms equipped with state-of-the-art air filtration systems and other safeguards to help protect transplant recipients’ weakened immune systems. The rooms are furnished with home-like touches – such as a laptop computer and comfortable furnishings – to help ease the strain of an extended hospital stay, all through the support of the St. Francis Foundation.
The St. Francis Cancer Center has a dedicated space within its Infusion Center designed especially for bone marrow transplant patients. These larger rooms have state-of-the-art air filtration systems and other safeguards to help protect transplant recipients’ weakened immune systems, as well as additional comforts for those whose infusions may take several hours. This area, like the other areas in the Infusion Center, is filled with natural light and windows that look onto beautiful views of nature.
If hospitalization is needed during bone marrow transplantation, the fifth floor at St. Francis Downtown also has rooms specially designed for BMT patients.