What is a Stem Cell? & Transplant Types

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What is a stem cell? Stem cells live throughout your body. They create all the types of cells your body needs.

We find blood-forming stem cells in three places:

  • Bone marrow
  • Blood 
  • Umbilical cords

The stem cells living in your bone marrow create blood. They make red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Sometimes, stem cells leave the bone marrow and end up in your bloodstream, called peripheral blood stem cells.

What a Stem Cell Transplant Does

A stem cell transplant replaces diseased cells in your bone marrow with healthy ones. After a successful stem cell transplant, bone marrow cells start creating healthy blood cells again. It can take several weeks for this process to work like normal.

Where We Find Healthy Stem Cells

We can collect healthy stem cells from:

  • Bone marrow, for a bone marrow transplant (BMT) 
  • Blood, for a peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSC) 
  • Umbilical cords, for an umbilical cord blood transplant (UCBT) 

You can get stem cells from a donor or from yourself. We call these types of stem cell transplants:

  • Autologous - from you
  • Allogeneic - from another person

Which type of stem cell transplant will you have? That depends. Both your physical condition and what type of donor you have play a role. You and your team will determine your best choice together. 

Autologous Transplant

This type of stem cell transplant uses stem cells from your own body, usually from your blood. We can also use bone marrow from your hip bones. 

An autologous stem cell transplant treats:

  • Multiple myeloma
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Plasma cell disorders 

Learn more about autologous transplant

Allogeneic Transplant

A donor provides the stem cells for this type of transplant. Donors can be related or unrelated. Either way, we have to perform tests to make sure the donor's immune system is compatible with yours.

We can treat these conditions with allogeneic transplant:

  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Acute lymphoid leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Chronic lymphoid leukemia
  • Hodgkins disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Myelofibrosis
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Waldenström macroglobulinemia

Become a Stem Cell Donor

Donating your stem cells and bone marrow can save a life. Learn more about stem cell donation.