When the day of the transplant arrives we expect that you and your family will be anxious. It is important to remember that the SCT team – doctors, nurses and other hospital staff – have done this many times before. The transplant itself is a simple, straightforward and painless procedure that is similar to a blood transfusion.
The stem cells can be given any time of the day or night. Fresh bone marrow stem cells are often given very soon after they are collected. If the donor and the recipient have different blood types, then the stem cells will have the red blood cells and the plasma removed before the infusion. When the stem cells have been frozen they are given to the patient after they have been thawed. This often occurs in the morning.
The stem cells are given intravenously much like a blood transfusion through your child’s central line. During the stem cells infusion, the nurse will frequently check your child’s blood pressure, pulse, respiration and oxygen saturation. Most stem cell recipients have no discomfort from the transplant. Rarely an allergic reaction may occur such as hives, chills, or a rapid heartbeat. Allergy medicines, Benadryl and Solucortef, are given intravenously before the transplant to prevent this type of reaction. Occasionally the patient needs medicine to decrease the amount of extra fluid in the body due to the volume of stem cells given. The signs of extra fluid are increased blood pressure and/or shortness of breath.