Bone Marrow Harvesting for Autologous or Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplants

This information explains bone marrow harvesting for autologous or allogeneic stem cell transplants.

Bone marrow harvesting is a procedure in which stem cells are collected from the bone marrow. Stem cells are immature cells that produce all of the blood cells in your body—the white blood cells that fight infection, red blood cells that carry oxygen, and platelets that stop you from bleeding. For an autologous stem cell transplant, your own stem cells will be harvested The cells are given back to you on the day of your transplant. For an allogeneic stem cell transplant, a donor’s stem cells are harvested. These stem cells are given to the person who is receiving the transplant later.

Before Your Procedure

  • Tell your doctor if you:
    • Have any allergies.
    • Are taking any medications. Some may suppress bone marrow and will need to be stopped.
    • Are taking aspirin, medications containing aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®), or vitamin E. They can cause bleeding problems. Do not take any of these medications unless your doctor says it is okay. Your nurse will give you information about what medications you cannot take and what you can take instead.
    • If you are donating stem cells for someone else, you may need to give a unit of blood 2 weeks before the procedure. This blood will be given back to you in the recovery room. It will help your bone marrow recover.

The Day Before Your Procedure

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The Day of Your Procedure

Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of clear liquids (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. 12 ounces of clear liquid

Examples of clear liquids include:

  • Clear broth, bouillon, or consommé (no particles of dried food or seasonings) 
  • Gelatin, such as Jell-O® 
  • Clear fruit juices (no pulp), such as white cranberry, white grape, or apple 
  • Soda, such as 7-Up®, Sprite®, ginger ale, seltzer, or Gatorade® 
  • Coffee or tea, without milk or cream 
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During Your Procedure

Your procedure will be done in the operating room. You will receive general anesthesia, which will put you to sleep during the procedure.

Bone marrow can be removed from many different sites on the body, such as the front and back of the hips and the breastbone. The most common site is the back of the hips.

The amount of bone marrow that will be removed depends on the weight and illness of the person who will receive the bone marrow. Your weight and size may limit how much bone marrow you can donate. Your body will replace this bone marrow in 2 to 3 months after the procedure.

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After Your Procedure

When you wake up in the recovery room, you may be sore at your harvest sites. Your nurse will give you pain medication to help with any discomfort. You will be given a prescription for pain medication to take home with you.

Caring for yourself at home

  • Do not shower for 24 hours after your procedure. After 24 hours, shower and then remove your dressings.
  • To help relieve any pain and stiffness, take your pain medication as prescribed.
  • You can resume taking aspirin, medications containing aspirin, NSAIDs, or vitamin E (if needed) after your procedure.
  • Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of liquids everyday for 4 days after your procedure.
  • Do not do any strenuous exercise (e.g., running, jogging, aerobics) or play any contact sports (e.g., football, soccer, basketball) for 1 week after your procedure. You can do light exercise such as walking.
  • Do not swim or sit in a bath tub, hot tub, or Jacuzzi® for 1 week after your procedure.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet high in iron (e.g., red meat, spinach) for 2 months after your procedure. Ask your doctor about taking vitamins and iron supplements.
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Call Your Doctor or Nurse if You Have:

  • Bleeding from your harvest sites
  • Redness or drainage at your harvest sites
  • Pain at your harvest sites that is getting worse or not improving after 1 day
  • Chills
  • A temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher
  • A cough that does not go away
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If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
Bone Marrow Harvesting for Autologous or Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplants
©2016 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on May 26, 2016