The immune system is the body's defense system against infection, disease, and foreign substances. Once stimulated, the immune system automatically turns on to locate and fight invading cells.
An autoimmune disease develops when the body's immune system fails to recognize normal body tissues and attacks and destroys them as if they were foreign rather than attacking an outside organism. The cause is not fully understood, but in some cases it is thought that autoimmune diseases are triggered by exposure to microorganisms or other environmental causes, especially in people with a genetic predisposition to the disorder. A single organ or multiple organs and tissues may be affected.
There are nearly 150 autoimmune disorders. While there are no cures for these disorders, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) provides expert care for people to maintain a high quality of life.
If your condition requires a bone marrow transplant, you should know that the Fred Hutchinson Transplant program at SCCA was ranked first in outcomes in a four-year study by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) that measured one-year survival rates of patients among 122 transplant centers in the United States. The Hutchinson Center pioneered the use of bone-marrow transplants as a treatment for blood and autoimmune diseases over 40 years ago. Since then many patients with serious autoimmune diseases have come from around the world to receive bone marrow transplants at SCCA.