• How to Choose a Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Center

    Choosing a stem cell transplant center may be one of the most important decisions you make during your child’s treatment for cancer, blood disorders, or other diseases. To help you make the best decision, consult our stem cell transplant center checklist (interactive PDF), which provides key questions to ask as you consider options for your child. The questions — and answers regarding our Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Center — are also listed below.

    How long has the center been performing stem cell transplants?
    The Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Center was founded in 1972. Since 2004, the Center has performed more than 1,125 stem cell transplants for children – making us one of the largest and most experienced stem cell transplant centers for children in the world.

    How many transplants has the center performed for your child's specific condition?
    Currently, our program performs more than 125 stem cell transplants each year. The table below shows the number of transplants for each disease type since 2004. (Note: numbers are reported by fiscal year, which is Oct 1-Sept 30 for our center.)

    Year

    Leukemia and Lymphoma

    Solid Tumors

    Immuno-deficiencies

    Metabolic Diseases

    Bone Marrow Failures

    Total

    FY04

    39

    22

    9

    1

    7

    78

    FY05

    38

    18

    3

    4

    2

    65

    FY06

    40

    16

    4

    1

    9

    70

    FY07

    41

    12

    3

    0

    9

    65

    FY08

    36

    31

    2

    3

    6

    78

    FY09

    40

    24

    5

    3

    10

    82

    FY10

    32

    23

    7

    6

    10

    78

    FY11

    56

    18

    9

    3

    8

    94

    FY12

    40

    29

    11

    5

    10

    95

    FY13

    22

    20

    13

    8

    6

    69

    FY14

    41

    30

    9

    15

    10

    105

    FY15

    26

    37

    22

    8

    21

    114

    FY16

    38

    45

    32

    5

    12

    132

    Total

    489

    325

    129

    62

    120

    1125

     

    Does the center have a commitment to reporting and following patient outcomes, above and beyond national requirements?
    At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, we consistently participate in national outcomes reporting. We also have played a major role in developing outcomes metrics and standards, as well as analyzing patient outcomes data. Capturing this data ensures that we continually improve our outcomes – and provide the highest standards of care.

    How many credentialed transplant physicians does the center have on staff?
    Our pediatric stem cell transplant program currently has 14 credentialed transplant specialists on staff. All are faculty members of Harvard Medical School. Our transplant physicians include past and present leaders with such organizations as the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research.

    Do the center’s nurses have extensive, specialized experience caring for transplant patients?
    At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, all of our transplant nurses are certified pediatric oncology nurses with transplant-specific training. Our nurses work collaboratively with physicians and other team members to coordinate and oversee each child’s treatment plan. Your program nurse will be your primary point of contact and is an important resource for your family at each step of the process.

    Does the center actively collaborate with other clinicians in their hospital or practice — such as pulmonary and infectious disease experts — who specialize in stem cell transplantation?
    At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, our pediatric stem cell transplant program works closely with designated pulmonary, imaging, infectious disease, metabolic disorder, renal disease, pathology, radiation oncology, cardiology, nephrology, surgery, and intensive care unit specialists at Boston Children’s Hospital who have extensive experience caring for transplant patients.

    Does the center offer clinical trials for stem cell transplant patients?
    Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s has an active stem cell transplant research program, including many stem cell transplant clinical trials. These studies are driving promising new techniques and therapies in the field of pediatric stem cell transplantation. You child may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial as part of treatment. Your care team will discuss your child’s treatment plan at length with you, including any clinical trial options available.

    If you need an unrelated donor transplant, does the center have a specially trained donor search coordinator?
    If you are having an unrelated donor transplant, our pediatric-specific donor search coordinator will provide support with this process. Once a suitable donor has been located, the donor search coordinator will work with your care team, the donor registry, and donor center to schedule the stem cell harvest. Our donor services program is accredited by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) to coordinate donor searches for patients who do not have a related donor.

    Is the center accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy and/or any other relevant organizations?
    In addition to being accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy for over a decade, our center is also fully accredited by the National Marrow Donor Program; a charter member of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network of the National Institutes of Health; and a member of both the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research and the Cancer and Leukemia Group B.

    Does the center have a dedicated Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility to process the stem cells it uses for transplant?
    A GMP facility is one that adheres to specific manufacturing processes and practices established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dana-Farber is home to the Connell and O'Reilly Families Cell Manipulation Core Facility — New England's only Class 10,000 GMP cell therapy facility an academic medical center.

    Can the center identify members of a dedicated team that oversees quality initiatives for stem cell transplantation?
    Dana-Farber has a Department of Cellular Therapy Quality Assurance that is devoted to overseeing quality improvement, quality assurance, and quality control issues involving stem cells and all other cellular products used for patients.

    Is the center available to answer all of your questions about treatment?
    Our team of stem cell transplant specialists is dedicated to providing you with excellent and compassionate care. Before, during, and after your child’s treatment, our team is here to guide you in your decision-making process and answer any questions you may have. Feel free to contact us at any time.

    Will the same team be treating you before, during, and after your transplant?
    At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, your child will be cared for by a multidisciplinary group of professionals, known as your care team, who specialize in stem cell transplantation. Your care team will provide complete and well-managed care before, during, and after your stem cell transplant.

    Is there a person dedicated to working with you and your insurance plan to address insurance coverage?
    At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, each stem cell transplant patient is assigned a financial counselor who will help explain your health insurance coverage as it relates to your child’s transplant. As part of your child’s care team, your financial counselor will be the link between you and your insurance company. He or she will verify your insurance benefits, identify any patient financial responsibilities (such as co-pay amounts, deductibles, co-insurance, and coverage "caps"), and provide the appropriate clinical information that your health insurance provider will require for prior authorization.

    Is the center able to collaborate with your local medical provider on your pre- and post-transplant care?

    Our transplant physicians are committed to working closely with your referring physician throughout your transplant experience. At each step, we will communicate and collaborate with your local care team – including providing weekly emails – to ensure a seamless continuum of care.

    What patient education materials, classes, and/or programs does the center offer?
    To help families understand the stem cell transplant procedure, and to help you feel as comfortable as possible through every step of care, Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s created a Stem Cell Transplant Patient and Family Guidebook. You'll receive and review your guidebook during an education session with a program nurse. Families also can find special programs and resources at the Betty Ann Blum and Marjorie Blum Pediatric Resource Room, where professional staff and volunteers provide guidance and answer questions.

    What emotional and psychological support services does the center provide?
    At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, you’ll have access to many support services to help the entire family through each stage of the transplant process. These include:

    • Counseling and emotional support through our Pediatric Psychosocial Oncology team
    • Consultation with a psychiatrist who specializes in working with stem cell transplant patients and families
    • Information and access to community resources from clinical social workers and from resource specialists in our Pediatric Resource Program
    • Chaplains and spiritual care
    • For cancer patients, cancer survivorship programs that support patients over the long term, with an emphasis of living well beyond treatment
    • A Sibling Program that offers personalized psychosocial support and a variety of activities for school-aged and teenaged siblings of our pediatric patients
    • A full range of other patient and family support services

    Can the center put you in touch with transplant survivor families who are willing to talk to you about their experiences?
    If you wish to speak with someone who has been through the stem-cell transplant experience and understands the complex issues of transplant and survivorship, we can put you in touch with other families who have been through the process and are willing to lend an ear and provide support and guidance.

    Learn more
    Find more in-depth information about our pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Center, including: