MSK's Experience in Bone Marrow Transplants for Children

Pictured: Nancy Kernan

Nancy Kernan, Assistant Chief of the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Service, with a young patient.

Since 1973 — when the first bone marrow transplant was performed at Memorial Sloan Kettering — our doctors have performed more than 1,700 allogeneic and 1,500 autologous bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell transplants.

Our Transplant Experience

When Dr. Richard J. O’Reilly founded the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Service nearly thirty years ago, it was one of the original transplant centers in the United States. Memorial Sloan Kettering is a founding member of the National Marrow Donor Program, and participates both as a collection center and transplant center for that organization.

Why Choose Memorial Sloan Kettering for Bone Marrow Transplantation for Children
Our blood and marrow transplantation specialists have treated thousands of children and young adults affected by cancer and related diseases.
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The service has been a pioneer in the field of transplantation ever since. Important advances initiated here have included:

  • One of the first successful transplants using marrow from an unrelated donor.
  • The first successful transplant using marrow from an HLA-half-matched parent (a parent whose tissue type partially matches the patient’s).
  • The introduction of immune-cell (T-cell) depletion as a way to prevent graft-versus-host disease — the most frequent acute complication following marrow transplantation. Centers around the world now use this method, including nine centers in the United States and institutions in Germany, Italy, Australia, Japan, and China.
  • The introduction of hyperfractionated total body irradiation, a new method of delivering radiation therapy before a transplant to increase the anti-leukemia and anti-tumor effects of radiotherapy and decrease short-term and long-term side effects of radiation on growth and other endocrine function.
  • The use of immune cells derived from the blood to treat viral infections or relapse of disease after transplant.

Our Mission

The Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Service has two primary goals:

  • To perform bone marrow transplants successfully, and with a reduced risk of graft-versus-host disease using T-cell depletion.
  • To offer bone marrow transplantation in the absence of an HLA-matched sibling, by using T-cell depleted bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells donated by related HLA-mismatched family members.

Memorial Sloan Kettering’s doctors are working to improve the use of donor-derived T cells after a transplant to fight infections, and to prevent or reverse cancer relapse after a transplant. Research in gene therapy is also under way, with the goal of one day being able to transfer therapeutic genes into blood cells and immune cells to correct diseases of genetic origin. Clinical trials are vital to bone marrow transplantation. Read about the importance of clinical trials and learn about our newest clinical trials in our clinical trials section.

Our Transplant Outcomes

The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that helps patients to receive bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplants, includes Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in its NMDP Network. The NMDP website lists helpful, detailed information about each of its network members, including types of transplants offered, transplant costs, and outcome data.