Bone Marrow Transplant
WHAT IS IT
When the bone marrow is not producing sufficient healthy stem cells, which is where red and white blood cells, and platelets, come from, then a bone marrow transplant may be an option. This is sometimes the case when disease, such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, or sickle cell anemia, is life threatening.
A bone marrow transplant involves preserving stem cells extracted (taken out) from the bone marrow and then introducing or re-introducing those cells to the body. The three types of bone marrow transplant are:
Autologous – meaning the stem cells are coming from the patient and are being extracted before radiation and chemotherapy treatment. The person's own stem cells are later infused back into the body.
Allogeneic – meaning the stems cells come from a healthy, "matching" donor, who may or may not be a relative of the person needing transplant, but whose genetic type is a match for that person. The stem cells may also come from a cord blood bank.
Syngeneic – meaning the stem cells are coming from the patient's identical twin
WHAT TO EXPECT
MAIN LINE HEALTH
After transplant, you will be particularly at risk of infection due to your weakened immune system from radiation treatments. Your doctor will monitor you closely, checking your blood counts daily and carefully assessing your condition, especially in the first 100 days. Recovering from bone marrow transplant is a lengthy process (it may take up to a year or more to fully recover) and there is plenty of risk of complication as well as side effects from radiation and chemotherapy. Your age and other factors may also affect how well and how quickly you recover.
As with any organ transplant, a proper donor must be found first. Once a donor has been identified, you will be prepped for the procedure. Preparations for a bone marrow transplant vary depending on the type of transplant, the disease requiring transplant and your tolerance for certain medications.
When you are admitted for treatment, you will likely visit our Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. The air quality in our Unit is comparable to that of an operating room to lower your chance of infection, especially if your immune system has been suppressed by your treatments.
Reducing Complications of Transplant Procedures
Specialists in Jefferson's transplant program are pioneering efforts to reduce complications of transplant procedures, such as a potentially fatal reaction called graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in which the donor marrow attacks its new host. The standard method for preventing GVHD, which involves delivering chemotherapy drugs prior to transplantation, can weaken the immune system, which may cause infections and even secondary cancers.
Through this novel procedure developed at Jefferson, chemotherapy drugs are administered after the introduction of T cells but before stem cells are given. As a result, GVHD-causing cells are killed, while sparing cells that restore the immune system. In clinical trials, this approach is bringing individuals lacking well-matched donors quicker, broader access to transplants with better results.
BENEFITS OF GOING HERE
For the second year in a row, our BMT Program’s performance for one-year survival is above the expected survival rate – when compared to similar patients transplanted throughout the United States. Our program was one of 17 U.S. transplant centers that achieved this recognition in 2020 and is the only center with this distinction in the tri-state area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware). We perform 100–150 blood and bone marrow transplants each year at our state-of-the-art facility, which is solely dedicated to performing transplants, and every member of our team is specially trained in blood and bone marrow transplantation and has extensive experience in managing all transplant types.
Our BMT Program is fully accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT)—the gold standard of excellence for blood and bone marrow transplant programs in the United States—and the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP).
Fox Chase has received the highest designation from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, an elite center recognized for excellence in cancer treatment, research, prevention, and education.
The Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) team at Jefferson in Philadelphia is highly skilled and renowned for providing compassionate and state-of-the-art care to meet your needs as a bone marrow transplant patient. In fact, Jefferson has become the program to which many physicians send their patients when they don't have another option to offer. Jefferson meets the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) standards for bone marrow and tissue transplantation.
Our physicians and scientists have helped pioneer new approaches to the treatment of leukemia by translating scientific discoveries into improved patient care. Our researchers have discovered the gene potentially responsible for certain types of leukemia, which is paving the way for new genetic treatment options. We also have determined the cause of several blood malignancies and are leading the way in finding more effective treatments for them.