Stem Cell Transplant: What to Expect

Changes Due to the Coronavirus

For your safety and protection, we're testing everyone for COVID-19 72 hours before treatment. If you have the coronavirus, we'll work with you on next steps.

The stem cell procedure consists of 3 phases.

Before Your Stem Cell Transplant

New patient evaluations are similar to a typical doctor's office visit. They may take a few hours. At the new patient evaluation, please expect to meet with:

  • Your transplant physician who will review your records, discuss treatment options and make recommendations
  • A transplant nurse coordinator will meet with you to answer questions
  • Our social worker, who will assist with questions about housing and disability paperwork
  • Our financial coordinator, who will assist with questions about insurance coverage

As you get closer to your transplant, you may need additional testing of your heart and lungs. You will have another appointment with your transplant team to review the details of the transplant, including all the medications you will be receiving.

The Stem Cell Transplant Process

If you are having an autologous transplant (using your own cells), you'll receive medication that helps to mobilize your stem cells. Your stem cells are then collected on a special machine (a process called apheresis). If you are having an allogeneic transplant (using donor cells), your donor will undergo a similar process.

You will receive chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments. Depending on the specific treatments, these may be given as an inpatient or outpatient.

The day of your transplant is called Day 0. In most cases, the transplant itself only takes about an hour.

While your blood counts are low, you'll receive medications to prevent and treat infections. You will also receive blood transfusions. Most patients can be discharged from the hospital when their blood counts are high enough to prevent infection.

Recovering After the Transplant

It can take several months to fully recover from the transplant. You will be on medication to prevent infection. If you are having a donor transplant, you will be taking medication to prevent graft rejection and graft vs host disease. Your transplant team will follow you closely. We will also work closely with your local oncologist and transfer your care back to your local doctor when it is safe to do so.