Blood & Marrow Stem Cell Transplantation

Memorial Sloan Kettering bone marrow transplantation experts

Memorial Sloan Kettering is one of the country’s most experienced centers for bone marrow transplantation. Parastoo Dahi (left) is a hematologist and medical oncologist in MSK’s Bone Marrow Transplant Service.

In a stem cell transplant, also called a bone marrow transplant, new blood-forming stem cells are added into the bloodstream to replace a person’s unhealthy cells. Stem cells are made in the bone marrow and develop into the different types of blood cells in the body.

This procedure can be an effective form of treatment for certain kinds of cancer, especially blood cancers such as leukemialymphoma, and multiple myeloma. A stem cell transplant may also be used to treat certain genetic conditions and some noncancerous blood diseases.

What to Expect When Making an Appointment for a Stem Cell Transplant
Learn what to expect when you call to make an appointment for a stem cell transplant at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Who Can Have a Stem Cell Transplant?

We can now give transplants to people who may not have been able to have them in the past, including older people and those with other medical conditions. But stem cell transplants can be hard. The process used to get a person ready for the procedure has several side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, mouth sores, and fatigue.

In addition, the immune system is suppressed for a long time after a transplant, which means it stops working as well as it normally does. During that period, people are at a higher risk for many types of infections.

Because of these potential complications, some people are not candidates for stem cell transplants.

Jennifer’s Story about Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)
Unable to find a matching bone marrow donor to treat her acute myelogenous leukemia, Jennifer turned to Memorial Sloan Kettering, where physicians did a stem cell transplant using umbilical cord blood.

Why Choose MSK for a Stem Cell Transplant?

Memorial Sloan Kettering is one of the largest centers for stem cell and bone marrow transplants in the country. In 1973, our doctors did the world’s first successful transplant between a patient and an unrelated donor. Since then, we have been leaders in stem cell transplantation. We developed many of the transplant methods widely used today.

MSK doctors and healthcare professionals deliver leading-edge care to everyone who has a transplant here, no matter what type of cancer they have. To improve patient outcomes, our researchers specializing in stem cell transplantation are continually trying to reduce the complications of transplants. We are also working to make stem cell transplants available to more people who could benefit from them.

Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Service Chief Sergio Giralt

Several recent advances have made bone marrow transplantation a safe option for more patients. Sergio Giralt (right) is the Chief of the Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Service at MSK.

To provide each person who needs a transplant with the best care possible, our highly skilled transplant doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners work with a team of other experts. This group includes immunologists, gastroenterologists, kidney specialists, radiologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, rehabilitation doctors, and social workers.

We understand that you may be overwhelmed by the idea of having a stem cell transplant. You may also be worried about the complications of your underlying disease. For those reasons, we offer a broad range of resources and supportive care services before, during, and after the procedure to help you and your caregivers meet the challenges you may face, as well as improve your quality of life.

Transplantation can occur in the inpatient or outpatient (ambulatory) setting. We are now doing more transplants in the outpatient setting. Your care team will help determine what is best for you.