Akron Children's Stem Cell Transplant Program provides care coordination for patients and families during all phases of the transplant process. Stem cell transplantation is an intensive treatment used for some forms of cancer and other blood-related diseases. Read More...
Stem cell transplantation is an intensive treatment used for some forms of cancer and other blood-related diseases.
Stem cell transplants restore the hematopoietic or blood-forming cells that have been destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation. Hematopoietic stem cells are found in bone marrow and umbilical cord blood.
Akron Children's performs autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplants.
A patient receives his own stem cells during an autologous transplant. This procedure works well for certain types of cancer, like Hodgkin's disease, but is not an option with a cancer like leukemia, where the malignancy involves the blood cells.
Allogeneic stem cell transplants are used for patients with several types of acute and chronic leukemia, as well as inherited immune system disorders and bone marrow failure disorders such as aplastic anemia. (Aplastic anemia occurs when the bone marrow produces too few of all types of blood cells.)
For our allogeneic transplant program, the stem cells come from a match-related donor.
Once a match has been determined, patients undergo a comprehensive pre-transplant evaluation, including lab work, radiology scans and organ function studies.
Donors undergo a medicine regimen to increase the number of stem cells released into the bloodstream by the bone marrow to prepare them for a process called apheresis. Apheresis is similar to dialysis in that the blood is removed from the donor, run through a machine that targets and collects stem cells, and then the rest of the blood is returned to the donor.
The actual stem cell transplant lasts about 20 minutes. Then, engraftment takes place over the following 2 to 3 weeks. This means the immature stem cells travel to the empty bone marrow spaces and begin to produce normal white and red blood cells and platelets.
During engraftment, there is an extreme risk of infection. That's why our Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders has HEPA-filtered air, which is where stem cell patients stay while they are admitted to the hospital.
Patients undergoing allogeneic transplants also are at risk for graft-versus-host disease, which occurs when the donor's immune cells attack specific organs of the host, such as the skin, liver or gastrointestinal tract.
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