Blood and Marrow Transplant

high performing leukemia lymphoma myeloma cancer surgeryThe Blood & Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program(BMTCTP) treats all blood-related diseases, including aplastic anemia and other conditions that stem from a bone marrow failure, as well as some solid neoplastic diseases. Our experts evaluate each patient’s needs and develop an individualized treatment plan for their road to recovery.

On this page, you will learn about blood and marrow transplants, what diseases can be treated, and more. For more information on what to expect before, during, and after your transplant, please visit the following pages below:

What is a blood and marrow transplant?

A bone marrow transplant is a process to replace unhealthy bone marrow with healthy bone marrow. Bone marrow transplants can treat:

  • Blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma.
  • Bone marrow diseases like aplastic anemia.
  • Other immune system or genetic diseases.

What is bone marrow?

Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside your bones that creates blood-forming cells. These cells turn into blood cells such as:

  • White blood cells to fight off sickness.
  • Red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout the body.
  • Platelets to control bleeding.

What types of blood and marrow transplants are there?

Patients receiving a bone marrow transplant are given high doses of chemotherapy, radiation, or both, to attack cancer cells and healthy cells in the bone marrow where blood is formed. After the cells have been killed, the patient receives new blood-forming cells through an IV. After receiving new blood-forming cells, healthy blood cells will begin to develop.

A bone marrow transplant gives a patient healthy blood cells collected from the patient or a donor. The blood cells may be collected from blood or from bone marrow. There are two types of blood-forming cell transplant.

An autologous transplant is where your own blood cells are collected and stored. You get them back after a treatment with high dose chemotherapy. Think of this type of transplant as a rescue. High doses of chemotherapy or radiation kill your natural bone marrow. After that, you get your stored blood cells back to repair your damaged bone marrow. These blood-forming cells help you make the new blood cells needed to be healthy. This type of transplant is used in patients with lymphomas and multiple myeloma.

An allogeneic transplant uses blood cells collected from another person (also called a donor). This person may be a family member or someone who isn’t related to you. In this transplant your bone marrow is replaced with healthy marrow from someone else. This type of transplant is used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, and aplastic anemia or other blood disorders.

How do I find a donor?

An allogeneic transplant uses blood-forming cells donated by someone else. This person may be a family member or someone unrelated to you. 

It is not your responsibility to find your own donor. To begin the search for a donor, your doctor will first look within your family—typically a sibling. About 70% of patients who need a transplant do not have a matched donor in their family. If there is not a donor match in your family, your doctor will search through donor registries to find a unrelated donor.

You can learn more about finding a donor on the Be The Match website.

Additional resources

There are a number of reputable resources available to learn more about these treatments. You may also ask your doctors any questions that you have about the disease and they will be able to give you answers specific to your needs.

Be The Match is an online bone marrow registry that shares a wealth of transplant resources online for free. Visit the following pages for more information from this trusted resource:

Blood & Marrow Transplant Information Network (BMT InfoNet) is a leading advocacy organization for bone marrow, stem cell and cord blood transplant patients. Visit the following pages for more information from this trusted resource:

For more information on blood and marrow transplants and Markey's support services, consider visiting the following webpages:

Learn more

For more information on what to expect before, during and after your transplant, please visit the following pages below:


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NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.