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What is stem cell transplantation?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Stem cell transplantation is a procedure in which healthy stem cells are injected into a person, with the purpose of replenishing the stem cells in the bone marrow. Stem cells are immature blood cells that develop into the mature cells found in the circulating blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. There are different types of stem cell transplantations, depending on the source of the stem cells. If they are obtained from the person who will later receive the cells, the transplantation is called an autologous transplantation; if they are received from an identical twin, it is a syngeneic transplantation; and if they are received from another person who is not an identical twin, it is called an allogeneic transplantation. The stem cells used for transplantation can be obtained from bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, or regular blood. Before stem cells are collected from samples of regular (peripheral) blood, the person donating the blood usually receives medications to increase the movement of stem cells from the bone marrow (where they are most plentiful) to the bloodstream.

Stem cell transplantation is when a person gets healthy, new stem cells to replace unhealthy bone marrow and blood cells. This is called a stem cell—or bone marrow—transplant.

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