Jefferson Health

Bone Marrow Transplant

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If you have been diagnosed with leukemia, aplastic anemia, lymphoma or another type of cancer, you may be a candidate for a bone marrow transplant, also known as hematopoietic stem cell transplantations. 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.

Your team members may consist of your physician, a bone marrow transplant nurse coordinator, social workers, dieticians, physical therapists and others, depending upon your treatment protocol. Team members work and coordinate with each other to ensure your bone marrow transplant goes smoothly and that you have a speedy recovery.

What Does a Bone Marrow Transplant Involve?

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.

Leading the Way in Leukemia Research

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.