Looking for information on Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplants?
With our Cancer Consortium partners at Seattle Children’s, we also specialize in pediatric BMTs.
Learn more about Pediatric BMT
Blood and marrow transplant (BMT) is often the best therapy for blood cancers. It’s also among the greatest success stories in cancer care — and it started right here.
Through the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we’ve performed more than 17,500 transplants. This makes our program not only the first, but also one of the most respected and successful of its kind in the world.
Our depth and breadth of knowledge allows us to treat both common and very rare blood diseases, and help manage any complications that might arise, helping you get better faster. And if you need a donor, we will help you find one. Today, because of advanced research, nearly everyone who needs a donor can be matched with one.
— Marco Mielcarek, MD, PhD, Medical Director, Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Program
At our Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, you will begin with an initial consultation with a transplant oncologist, who will talk with you about your treatment options and make recommendations for you and your referring physician. This appointment can be in person or through telehealth.
If your appointment is in person, you’ll also meet with a transplant nurse, who will tell you more about BMT and give you a tour of the South Lake Union clinic. This is also a time for us to get to know you better and answer any questions you may have.
Your Fred Hutch transplant team is here to treat you, to listen to you and to take care of you and your family. They are BMT experts who focus exclusively on treating patients just like you, every day, who are going through BMT.
Your BMT team includes a group of world-class professionals including a transplant oncologist, transplant nurse, advanced practice provider, pharmacist, registered dietitian, team coordinator and social worker, all here to support you. We also offer supportive care services to care for your well-being in every sense.
The world’s first bone marrow transplant took place in the 1970s, when one of our physician-researchers, E. Donnall Thomas, MD, and his team developed the clinical use of transplants — and won a Nobel Prize for this work.
Each year since then, our physicians and researchers have made more discoveries. And in the past few years alone, major advances have made treatment available for more people, such as those who are older and those who might not have found a donor in the past.
A BMT restarts your body’s ability to make healthy new blood cells by replacing abnormally forming stem cells with healthy cells.
Conditioning is when a patient receives chemotherapy, radiation or both before a BMT. This is done to destroy or weaken the damaged cells in the patient’s body.
Sometimes the amount of radiation, chemotherapy or both that is needed to treat a cancer is so high that a patient’s stem cells will be badly damaged or destroyed by these treatments. Other times, bone marrow can be destroyed by a disease. BMT replaces these damaged cells with healthy new cells.
The cells that are transplanted, called hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells, can come from bone marrow, circulating blood or umbilical cord blood donated by a new mother.
BMT can be used to treat blood cancers, like leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome. It can also be used to treat non-cancerous diseases like aplastic anemia, myelofibrosis and immune deficiency disorders.
Allogeneic transplant: When healthy stem cells used in a transplant come from a donor, it is called an allogeneic transplant.
Autologous transplant: When healthy stem cells come from a patient’s own body, it is called an autologous transplant.
Blood/stem cell transplant: When healthy stem cells come from a patient’s own blood (autologous) or a healthy donor’s blood (allogeneic), it is called a blood/stem cell transplant. These are the most common type of transplants.
Bone marrow transplant: When healthy stem cells come from a healthy donor’s bone marrow, it is called a bone marrow transplant.
Cord blood transplant: A cord blood transplant is a type of allogeneic transplant. It uses stem cells from the blood of a newborn’s umbilical cord.
After a baby is born, parents can choose to donate their umbilical cords. The blood from these cords is frozen, then stored in a cord blood bank until it is used in a transplant.
Haploidentical (haplo) transplant: Sometimes a parent, sibling or child can be a donor, even if they are not a very close match to the patient. In a haploidentical transplant, these first-degree relatives only need to be a 50 percent match to the patient.
BMT involves several steps. It will take about four months if you’re receiving cells from a donor and about two months if your own cells will be used.
Through the Fred Hutch Long-Term Follow-Up (LTFU) Program, we provide support not only in the months after you leave our care, but for the rest of your life. LTFU is an exclusive program for Fred Hutch patients who have completed BMT.
Before you have a BMT, you will need to choose a responsible family member or friend who can be your caregiver and stay with you during your treatment and recovery. As part of planning for your transplant, it is important to know more about what caregivers do, then decide who can be your caregiver.
There are many resources online for learning about blood and marrow transplant (BMT). Health educators from the Patient and Family Resource Center at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center have put together a list of trusted sources to help you get started.
Whether you are newly diagnosed going through treatment or know someone with cancer, our staff can offer personalized resources and answer questions about support options in the community.
National Marrow Donor Program
The National Marrow Donor Program’s website, Be the Match, includes many articles, videos and other resources for patients and caregivers about bone marrow and cord blood transplant. Information is available in Spanish, too. From the National Marrow Donor Program.
Stem Cell Transplant for Cancer
A broad overview of stem cells, including why they are used, the types of cells used and what a transplant is like. In-depth advice for both patients and caregivers, ranging from tips to help you stay healthy during treatment to finding local support and resources. From the American Cancer Society.
Blood and Marrow Stem Cell Transplantation Guide
A variety of free resources for patients, including a 48-page guide, videos, 3D models that demonstrate procedures and more. From the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.