Every year, more than 18,000 patients are diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers – like leukemia and lymphoma, and 70 other diseases for which a marrow or blood stem cell transplant may be their best or only hope of a cure.
How A Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant Works
Healthy marrow and stem cells are needed to live. When a disease affects the bone marrow so that it cannot function properly, a marrow or blood stem cell transplant could be the best treatment option 12,000 of the 18,000 people diagnosed with a blood cancer or disease will need an unrelated donor. For these people, a transplant is the only potential cure.
A 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.