The Transplant and Early Recovery Period

Learn the steps involved in a bone marrow or stem cell 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.

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

The conditioning regimen is designed to destroy the diseased cells in your body and/or 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). 

Depending on your disease and type of transplant, you may be hospitalized for all of your treatment, or you may receive all or part of your treatment in an outpatient clinic.

Once it is safe to release you from the hospital, you will be closely monitored at the outpatient clinic.

  • If you were transplanted with your own stem cells, you will need to remain close to the outpatient clinic for two-four weeks.
  • If you were transplanted with cells from a donor, you will need to stay close to the outpatient clinic for approximately 100 days. 

Eventually, the outpatient 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/Preparative Regimen

Updated June 2024