Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center features a world-renown pediatric stem cell transplant practice that performs more than 90 transplants per year. Our team includes some of the most knowledgeable stem cell transplant physicians, scientists and nurses in the world, as well as nationally recognized pediatric specialists. We perform stem cell transplants in a state-of-the art facility designed specifically for the needs of children undergoing this procedure. This unit minimizes the patient’s exposure to harmful toxins and germs without preventing the child’s freedom to leave his/her room or interact with family and friends.
Continue reading to learn about stem cell transplant and then visit our Stem Cell Transplant Center homepage to learn more about our expertise.
A stem cell transplant (also called bone marrow transplants) is the infusion of healthy stem cells into the body to stimulate new bone marrow growth. Stem cells are vital to a child’s ability to fight infection. Transplants are performed on children whose stem cells have been damaged by disease or invasive treatments for cancer such as chemotherapy and or radiation therapy. There are two types of stem cell transplant:
We perform both autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplants to treat a range of cancerous and non-cancerous conditions in children, including
All children undergoing a stem cell transplant are given high-dose chemotherapy to make room in their bone marrow for the new stem cells, suppress their immune system to prevent graft rejection, and destroy cancer cells in their body. After this conditioning regimen, they are given a few days’ rest before their transplant.
Like a blood transfusion, stem cells are given to a child through an intravenous catheter. Children are awake through this painless process. It generally takes two to six weeks for the engraftment to “take” and for the stem cells to multiply and make new blood cells.
Minor side effects, such as fever, chills and shortness of breath, can accompany the infusion of new stem cells. More significant complications, including graft rejection and graft-versus-host disease (a condition in which the donor’s immune cells attack the patient’s body), can occur following the transplant. Learn more about what to expect during a stem cell transplant.
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's has one of the largest and most experienced pediatric stem cell transplants programs in the United States. Watch the video to learn how stem cell transplants work.
Twins Miranda and Olivia Agudelo (with their parents) traveled from Colombia to Boston for a bone marrow transplant. Read their story on Boston Children's Hospital Blog Thriving.