What are allogeneic stem-cell transplants?
A transplant that uses the stem cells of another person (a donor) is called a donor stem-cell transplant. The medical term for this is an allogeneic transplant. It is also sometimes called an allograft or a bone-marrow transplant.
A transplant using a donor's stem cells can be used to treat cancers such as lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia. It is also used sometimes to treat other diseases of the bone marrow or the immune system.
These stem-cell transplants can be performed on adults and children. This information is mainly for adults who are having a donor stem-cell transplant.
If you have a child who is going to have a donor stem-cell transplant, we hope it helps you understand the different stages of treatment. You may find the approach used in units specializing in treating children is different from that used in units that treat adults.
Some transplants use a person's own stem cells. This is called an autologous stem-cell transplant or high-dose treatment with stem-cell support.
Stages of donor stem-cell transplant (allogeneic transplant)
The aim of a stem-cell transplant is to replace your bone marrow and immune system with those of a donor. This will give new, healthy bone marrow and an immune system that can fight against the remaining cancer cells.
A donor stem-cell transplant is a very specialized and complex treatment. But, it can broken down into stages.
If you are recommended to have a stem-cell transplant, your team at the hospital will explain the risks and benefits. If you agree to have a transplant, they can then search for a donor and begin planning and preparation (Stage 1).
You will have high-dose chemotherapy and possibly radiotherapy before the treatment (Stage 2). This is known as conditioning treatment. At the same time, your donor's stem cells will be collected (Stage 3). When you are ready to have your transplant (Stage 4), you will be given the cells through a drip (infusion). The cells find their way to the bone marrow. Next, they settle into their correct place and begin producing new blood cells (Stage 5).
You will need a lot of medical and nursing support while the stem cells engraft. When the blood cells have recovered and you are well enough, you can go home (Stage 6). The hospital staff will explain how you can take care of yourself and you will have regular follow-up appointments.