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Types of Blood and Marrow Transplants

After receiving chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both, many of your healthy blood-forming cells, called stem cells, have been destroyed. Blood and marrow transplantation is how we help to restore those stem cells. Blood-forming stem cells are made in the bone marrow, and can become one of three types of blood cells:

  • White blood cells, which fight infection
  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen through the body
  • Platelets, which help the blood to clot

There are two main types of blood and marrow transplants:

  • An autologous transplant uses stem cells that are collected from the patient’s own bone marrow before treatment. These stem cells are stored and given back to the patient after treatment.
  • An allogeneic transplant uses stem cells that come from the bone marrow of a donor. These cells are given to the patient after treatment. There are four types of allogeneic transplants:
    • Fully matched related donor transplant is a type of transplant where the related donor matches all of your HLA (human leukocyte antigen).  Siblings are most likely to be a close match.
    • Unrelated donor transplant—if you don’t have a relative who is a match, the transplant team can search international donor registries for an unrelated donor.
    • A haploidentical transplant, also called a half-matched or partially-matched transplant, is a type of allogeneic transplant where the donor matches exactly half of your HLA (human leukocyte antigen).
    • A cord blood transplant uses stem cells from donated umbilical cord blood which is collected immediately after birth. The donated cord blood is tested, frozen and stored as a cord blood unit at a public cord blood bank for future use.

Your care team will carefully evaluate you to see if you are eligible for a blood and marrow transplant, as well as which type of transplant is best for you.