At H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute at the University of South Florida, we are committed to your care and well-being. A blood or marrow transplant is a team effort, with you and your primary caregiver being the most important members of the team. We know the decision to have a blood or marrow transplant is a difficult one, because the treatment involves risk and requires a strong commitment by you and your caregiver. Our team is here to provide you with direction and support throughout all phases of transplant.
Our team members include physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, psychologists, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, a pain team, physical therapists, laboratory staff, transplant coordinators, dietitians, chaplains and volunteers who all work together to make your transplant successful. Before starting any type of treatment, you will meet with one of our transplant physicians and other members of our transplant team to determine if a transplant is right for you. Your treatment will be individualized based on your medical history and overall condition.
About Blood and Marrow Cells
Marrow is the spongy substance found inside bones. Under the microscope, it resembles the cells seen in the blood and is the factory where blood cells develop.
Types of blood cells made in the bone marrow are:
Stem Cells - immature "mother" cells found in the bone marrow and the blood that develop into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Red Blood Cells - cells that transport oxygen to different parts of the body.
White Blood Cells - cells that fight infections and form the immune system. There are many subtypes of white blood cells, including neutrophils, which play a prominent role in fighting bacterial infections, and lymphocytes, which play a role in fighting certain kinds of infections, such as viruses or cancer cells.
Platelets - cells that assist in blood clotting to stop bleeding.
About Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Blood and Marrow Transplantation is used to treat diseases like multiple myeloma, lymphomas, leukemias, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative disorders, aplastic anemia and other benign blood disorders, or solid tumors like testicular cancer. During transplantation, physicians can administer a very high dose of chemotherapy with or without irradiation to treat the disease because the transplant restores the patient’s blood cell counts.
The transplant procedure begins with either securing stem cells from one’s own blood or marrow and storing them frozen until needed or finding a suitable healthy HLA-matched donor (sibling or unrelated) to provide stem cells. Treatment begins with chemotherapy, with or without radiation. This is called conditioning. It is designed to treat the disease and, in the case of a transplant from a healthy donor, to prepare your immune system to accept the new stem cells. Conditioning will destroy or damage both abnormal and normal bone marrow cells. Because of this, the marrow cells need to be replaced. After conditioning, you are given an infusion of healthy stem cells. If the stem cells are obtained from the marrow, the transplant is referred to as a marrow stem cell transplant. If the stem cells are obtained from the blood, it is referred to as a peripheral blood stem transplant.
Following the transplant, the stem cells grow in your bone marrow and generate a normal complement of marrow and blood cells. Prior to recovery of the marrow, you will be at risk for developing infections, bleeding, and anemia. During this time you will need transfusions of red cells and platelets until your marrow can produce these on its own. You are also at risk for developing toxic effects to various organs as a result of the conditioning therapy. During this phase of transplant, aggressive care and support is required until the blood cell counts and organs recover. Close observation for transplant-related complications by the transplant team may be required for several weeks (if the stem cells were your own) or several months (if the stem cells were from a donor).
Diseases That Are Treated with Stem Cell Transplant
Below is a list of diseases that are commonly treated with blood or marrow transplantation at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute.
Blood and marrow transplantation is also used to treat a variety of nonmalignant diseases such as hereditary disorders of the immune system and red blood cell production. It is now being used for the treatment of severe autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and multiple sclerosis.
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