The Transplant and Early Recovery Period

Learn the steps involved in a transplant and issues to watch for during the early recovery period.

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Prior to your transplant, bone marrow or stem cells will be collected from you or your donor. The collection procedure is called a bone marrow or stem cell harvest. Read more about this procedure.

Three to seven days before the day of transplant, you will be given chemotherapy and/or total body irradiation.  This is called the preparative or conditioning regimen.

The preparative regimen is designed to destroy the diseased cells in your body and/or to make room for the new, healthy blood stem cells. 

After a day or two of rest, your transplant will occur. Healthy blood stem cells will be infused into your body much like a blood transfusion. The blood stem cells will migrate to the cavities of your bones where, over the next few weeks, they will begin producing new blood cells. This is called engraftment.

During the first weeks following your transplant, your medical team will monitor you closely for complications such as infection, excessive bleeding and organ problems. If you received stem cells from a donor, you will be monitored for graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD). 

Once it is safe to release you from the hospital, you will be closely monitored at an out-patient clinic.

  • If you were transplanted with your own stem cells, you will need to remain close to the outpatient clinic for approximately four weeks.
  • If you were transplanted with cells from a donor, you need to stay close to the outpatient clinic for approximately three months. 

Eventually, the out-patient clinic visits will become less frequent and you will be ready to return home to the care of your local physicians.

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Next Page: Conditioning or Preparative Regimen