It will take time for your child to recover from a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. Expect your child to lack stamina for a period of weeks or months after returning home. Also, it may take up to a year for your child’s immune system to return to normal.
Your child’s doctor will advise you on the steps you should take to guard against infections during this first year. The doctor will probably recommend that your child not return to school for one year, and you are encouraged to arrange for home tutoring during this time so that your child does not lose a year of schooling.
Patient & Caregiver Resource Manual
Your “Patient & Caregiver Resource Manual” contains a detailed chapter on long-term recovery that will help guide you through the first year after your child’s transplant. It contains sections on preventing infection, nutritional guidelines, medications, immunizations, guidelines for daily living, graft-versus-host disease and other issues.
During the first year after transplant, your child will need to be seen regularly by your family doctor, pediatrician, or pediatric oncologist at home or, if your family lives in the Seattle area, at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). You should return to SCCA for a follow-up appointment at the end of one year and then for long-term follow-up evaluations in subsequent years.
Your child’s appointments will include a physical exam, blood counts, and kidney and liver function tests. We usually recommend that our young patients see their doctor once a week for the first month after they return home, then every other week for the next two months. After that, your child will probably see the doctor once every three or four weeks.
Your child’s height and weight will need to be measured and recorded every month because normal growth and development may be affected by the transplant. Children who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants may need to be followed by a pediatric endocrinologist also.
During the one-year follow up appointment at SCCA, your child’s doctor will evaluate any late complications from the transplant, such as graft-versus-host disease.
Contact Us If You Have Questions
If you have transplant-related questions that your child’s pediatrician cannot answer, call for a consultation with our Long-Term Follow-Up team. Call (206) 667-4415, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Pacific time). Voicemail is available to leave a message after hours, but if you have an emergency after hours, call (206) 667-7600 and ask to speak to the charge nurse.