Bone Marrow Transplant

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Childhood Diseases Treated with a Transplant

Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) can treat many serious childhood conditions that involve the blood-forming cells. In recent years, even infants have been treated with BMT. At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), doctors often use BMT to treat childhood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma that cause the child’s bone marrow to make too many blood cells or the wrong type of blood cells.

Although blood cancers are still the most common condition treated with BMT, we increasingly use transplants when a child’s marrow stops making new blood cells (called severe aplastic anemia) or when certain blood cells are faulty (such as defective white blood cells in immune deficiencies, overaggressive white blood cells in autoimmune diseases, or misshaped red blood cells in sickle cell disease). As knowledge about diseases grows, and as transplantation science improves, we are also treating other rare childhood diseases, such as high-risk neuroblastoma, and non-malignant diseases, such as Fanconi anemia, scleroderma, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, with BMT. Many of these are rare genetic disorders.

The Fred Hutchinson Bone Marrow Transplant Program at SCCA is now one of the highest-volume centers for unrelated donor transplants for non-malignant diseases. SCCA is a leader in developing the safer and more customized transplant methods required by children with these conditions. Many children with marrow failure, for example, are ultrasensitive to specific toxicities, and many children with primary immunodeficiencies have infections that require special care.

To help children with rare non-malignant diseases, Seattle Children’s created the first virtual national board of experts—from ten of the top transplant centers across the U.S.—to gather and discuss the best treatment choices for individual patients. When your child comes to Seattle, your family will receive highly personalized advice from the top non-malignant transplant experts in the country. This input from a roundtable of hematologists, immunologists, infectious disease subspecialists, and others ensures that your child gets the same dedicated attention as any child with cancer.

Doctors at SCCA can answer your questions about whether or not your child’s specific condition makes him or her a candidate for BMT. In addition to your child’s diagnosis, eligibility for transplant may also depend on disease stage and severity, genetic or molecular characteristics, co-existing medical conditions, previous treatments, and other issues.

You can find more information about the role of transplantation and other current treatments in sections on specific diseases: