Everyone's transplant journey is different. It can be a long process, but you will not be alone. Your health care team, friends, family and Be The Match® will be there to care for you and support you along the way.
Preparative or conditioning regimen
Before a transplant, you will receive chemotherapy, with or without radiation. This is known as the preparative or conditioning regimen. This treatment is given in the days just prior to the infusion of blood-forming cells.
In an autologous transplant, which uses the patient’s own blood-forming cells, this treatment is given in very high doses to kill any cancer cells that might be left in your body. In an allogeneic transplant, which uses blood-forming cells from a family member, unrelated donor, or cord blood unit, the preparative regimen varies in intensity from relatively mild to very intense. The level of intensity depends on the disease being treated. The treatment is given to help make sure the donor cells engraft (settle into the marrow to start making new blood cells).
On the transplant day, known as Day 0, the replacement cells are infused into your blood stream. These cells know where they belong in the body. They move through the bloodstream and settle in the bone marrow.
Waiting for engraftment
Until your donated cells start to grow and make new blood cells, you will have low numbers of all types of blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets). Waiting for engraftment lasts from 10 to 21 days for marrow and peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC), and up to 6 weeks for cord blood transplants.
Engraftment is when the donated cells begin to grow and make new red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. At this point, your blood cell numbers will begin to go up. Your immune system will become stronger (although it will still be weaker than usual for many months). Your transplant team will still care for you and watch you closely for complications. Engraftment and early recovery lasts from around day 30 to day 100. You will be in the hospital or nearby during this time.
The entire process, from the start of the preparative regimen until hospital discharge, can last weeks to months, followed by many months of recovery at home.
The table below shows the typical transplant steps and timeline after you have been referred to a transplant center.
Be The Match can help you learn more about the transplant process. Contact our patient services coordinators at 1 (888) 999-6743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.