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Blood and Marrow Transplant Treatment

A blood and marrow transplant (BMT), also called a stem cell transplant, transfers healthy blood stem cells into your body to replace diseased or cancerous cells. You'll receive your stem cell transplant 1-2 days after preparation and preconditioning. Similar to a blood transfusion, the procedure usually takes up to 5 hours.

About 10-14 days after your transplant, the new stem cells move from your bloodstream to your bone marrow. The stem cells then begin producing normal blood cells, which is a process called engraftment. During this time, the transplant team monitors your blood counts daily and provides supportive care with antibiotics and/or blood or platelet transfusions.

In the weeks or months after your BMT procedure, you may require periodic transfusions of platelets and red blood cells.

Side effects or complications

Possible side effects of BMT include:

Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)

This is a frequent complication of allogeneic transplant. In this type of stem cell transplant, the donor's cells have an immune reaction that destroys your own tissue. We can prevent and treat GVHD with medications.


Because a transplant weakens your immune system, infection is one of the most common complications. Washing your hands is the best way to prevent infection. Depending on your type of transplant, the highest risk of infection is from 30 days to 6 months after your transplant.

Kidney complications

High-dose chemotherapy and the combination of medications needed for a successful BMT often affect kidney function. We closely monitor your kidney function and treat any complications aggressively.

Pulmonary complications

High-dose chemotherapy and total-body radiation treatment may cause lung damage. Pneumonia caused by various fungi, viruses and bacteria may also damage the pulmonary system. Medications can treat pneumonia. Patients with lung damage may be temporarily placed on a ventilator.

Veno-occlusive disease

This potentially fatal liver problem is caused by the high-dose chemotherapy and radiation needed during preconditioning. The liver's blood vessels become swollen and clogged, reducing the liver's ability to remove toxins, drugs and other waste products from the bloodstream.

Cancer survivor Meghan Woody-Fowler.

Cancer survivor, future physician

Meghan Woody-Fowler was 19 when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Now, she plans to help future patients as a doctor.
Meghan's story

Start your path today.

Your journey to health starts here. Call 913-588-1227 or request an appointment at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

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