Researchers working with stem cells

Stem Cell Transplant Program

UVA Stem Cell Transplant Program treats patients with high-risk and life-threatening blood diseases. Our program has the highest level of accreditation, including Federation for Accreditation of Cell Therapy (FACT) and National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)/Be The Match registry approval. Based on our excellent outcome results, we are a Center of Excellence for many insurance companies.

How Does It Work?

Stem cells reside in both the spongy tissue inside bones and the peripheral blood. In patients with diseases like leukemia, stem cells malfunction and produce abnormal cells. In a stem cell / bone marrow transplant, stem cells are taken from healthy marrow or blood and given to a patient after chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. When a transplant is successful, the new stem cells produce healthy blood cells.

It may take several weeks for the donor stem cells in the bone marrow to begin to function fully. The new bone marrow cells will produce healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Stem cell transplantation may be done using:

  • Stem cells that were taken from your own bone marrow or blood and stored
  • Stem cells from a donor's bone marrow or blood

Types of Transplants

  • Autologous stem cell transplant (uses cells from your own body, usually collected from the blood)
  • Allogeneic or donor stem cell transplants (in 2018, almost everyone has a donor)
  • Matched related donor, usually a brother or a sister
  • Matched unrelated donor (there are over 25 million volunteer donors in the Be The Match registry)
  • Umbilical cord blood (stem cells donated from a newborn baby that have been frozen)
  • Haploidentical transplant, from a family member who is not a perfect match

Donating Cells

Relatives of patients in need of stem cells should fill out the Prospective Donor Intake Form. Other potential donors should contact Be The Match for information on joining the Registry for stem cell donation.

What to Expect

The Treatment Process

  • Initial visit with a transplant physician
  • A transplant nurse coordinator
  • Receive information on donor testing (if applicable)
  • Meet with a social worker and financial coordinator during your first visit to discuss insurance approval assistance, housing needs, etc

Next Steps

Once a graft source (the source of the cells) is identified, you'll have another appointment at the clinic, where you will meet with a nurse coordinator, physician, social worker, pharmacist, financial coordinator and nutritionist. You'll learn about the clinic's team approach to care and the steps in the treatment process. We perform the transplant in the hospital in an inpatient setting.

Choosing Your Care

Today, the outlook for many patients with blood cancers and disorders is very good. While there are many treatment options available, you should consider the experience of the program and dedication of the care team when choosing where to seek care. It's your right as a patient to ask questions and seek a second opinion.

Petri dish in a stem cell laboratory

A Vital Treatment Option

Stem cell transplantation is effective for an increasing number of cancers and blood disorders. Stem cells can differentiate into and retain the properties of many cell types, providing a lifetime source of new cells. With increased survival rates, stem cell transplants have become a significant treatment option for these disorders.

Our Team

The program's team includes more than 20 doctors, nurses and technical staff with experience that includes:

  • You, the patient. You are the most important member of our team.
  • Your family and friends, who can serve as your caregivers.
  • Fifteen years of research and patient care in bone marrow, stem cell and umbilical cord transplant.
  • Work in umbilical cord blood stem cell biology that's helped create new treatments for patients with blood and heart diseases.
  • Laboratory research that allows our team to offer you the most modern treatments.

Clinical & Research Expertise

UVA Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute Clinical Cancer Center. Our transplant program has significant expertise:

  • Transplant physicians with extensive experience
  • Nurses who are trained and experienced in the care of transplant patients
  • Nurse coordinators, financial counselors, social workers, physical therapists, pharmacists, and dietitians dedicated to the care of transplant patients
  • Experienced labs that meet the high standards set by professional laboratory organizations
  • Subspecialty consultants in areas such as cardiology, infectious disease and critical care

UVA Cancer Center is one of only two NMDP/Be The Match programs in Virginia.

Clinical Research Trials

Clinical research trials offer the latest in treatments, including some treatments not available at other centers. All of our clinical trials are approved by a separate committee called an Institutional Review Board (IRB) that ensures your safety. We are an approved member of several national research groups, including Bone Marrow Transplant-Clinical Trials Network (BMT-CTN), Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR).

Our clinical trials currently include a new therapy called Chimeric Antigen Receptor-T (CAR-T cell therapy). We also have trials for sickle cell anemia and graft vs host disease. We have several studies that look at ways to decrease relapse after transplant.

Make A Gift

Help Us Care for You and Your Loved Ones

UVA's Stem Cell Transplant Program doesn't just care for patients using advanced treatments, but we’re always looking for better and more effective ways of detecting, preventing and treating disease. You can help us pioneer the treatments of tomorrow.

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