Bone Marrow Transplant - Children

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Bone Marrow Transplant Facts

When you hear the term “bone marrow transplant,” the cells that are being transplanted are stem cells that are made in the bone marrow. Stem cells are an essential part of a person's immune system. They are immature blood cells that can divide to make more stem cells or, depending on the body's needs, can develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. Red blood cells deliver oxygen around the body. White blood cells defend against invaders and provide immunity. Platelets play a part in clotting to stop blood loss.

A stem cell transplant, also called a hematopoietic cell transplant, uses stem cells taken from the bone marrow, peripheral (circulating) blood, or cord blood of a donor. Sometimes the donor and recipient are one and the same—bone marrow or peripheral blood is removed from the patient and stored while the patient gets intensive chemotherapy and sometimes radiation. Then doctors return the stem cells to the patient to rebuild his or her blood-making system and immune system. This is called an autologous transplant. In other cases, doctors transplant cells from a different person. This type of transplant is called an allogeneic transplant.

The first bone marrow transplants originated more than 40 years ago at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a founding institution of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. E. Donnall Thomas, MD, received a Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work in this field. Read the full story about Dr. Thomas’ research and recognition.

The purpose of transplantation is to cure otherwise fatal diseases by destroying the patient’s damaged immune system and replacing it with healthy stem cells that will create a new immune system in the body.

Types of Transplants

There are several types of transplants. The difference between the types has to do with the source of the transplanted cells. The type of transplant your child receives depends on his or her situation. Read about the different names you might hear for transplants, the different types of transplants, and the different sources of transplanted cells.

Diseases Treated with a Transplant

Transplantation has been used to treat many conditions, including:

Our Patients Are Survivors

As a result of our doctors’ expertise as pioneers in the field:

  • Our transplant results are exceptional.
  • We treat high-risk patients.
  • We offer the latest therapies.
  • We have a unique long-term follow-up program.

Survival rates for children 100 days after their transplant have been above 90 percent since 2005 and were 100 percent in 2010. Survival rates for children one year after their transplant are equally encouraging. In 2009, the one-year survival rate was 78 percent. Experience and research are improving transplant survival rates steadily year after year.

Specific Program Information

You want the best for your child. So do we. At SCCA, your child will receive excellent, world-class medical care in an environment designed to support your child and your entire family.

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Types of Transplants

In autologous BMT, the transplanted stem cells are the child’s own cells; in allogeneic BMT, the cells come from another person—a donor. There are options for children who need a donor but can’t find a match.


A list of common terms you might hear during the bone marrow transplant process.