Every year, more than 12,000 patients are diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers – like leukemia and lymphoma – or other diseases for which a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor may be their best or only hope of a cure.
How A Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant Works
Healthy bone marrow and blood cells are needed to live. When a disease affects the bone marrow so that it cannot function properly, a bone marrow or cord blood transplant could be the best treatment option, and for some patients, offers the only potential cure.
A bone marrow transplant involves collecting a donor’s healthy blood-forming cells and transfusing the donated cells, in a process that is similar to receiving blood or medicine through an intravenous (IV) catheter, or tube, into the patient’s bloodstream where they begin to grow and make healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Autologous Transplant vs. Allogeneic Transplant
Autologous: An autologous transplant is when a person’s own cells are used. These cells are collected from the patient’s bloodstream and stored for transplant. Autologous transplant may be an option for patients with certain diseases.
Allogeneic: An allogeneic transplant is when cells from a family member, unrelated donor or umbilical cord blood unit are used for transplant. This is also called a related donor transplant if the donor is a family member or an unrelated donor transplant if the donor is not a family member.
Depending on a patient’s disease and health status their doctor may recommend an autologous transplant or an allogeneic transplant.