Stem Cell Transplantation

The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of the final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.

—John Fitzgerald Kennedy Profiles in Courage stem cell transplantation, which includes bone marrow transplants, is a complicated procedure used to treat leukemia, other cancers, and some blood diseases that were once considered incurable. There are three sources of stem cells: blood, bone marrow, or cord blood. In these procedures, the child is given high-dose chemotherapy, with or without radiation. Normal stem cells are then infused into the childs veins. The stem cells migrate to the cavities inside the bones where new, healthy blood cells are then produced.

Transplants, although frequently life-saving, are expensive, technically complex, and potentially life-threatening. Understanding the procedures and their ramifications at a time of crisis can be tremendously difficult. This chapter presents the basics of stem cell transplantation in simple terms, and shares the experiences of several families.

If a stem cell transplant has been recommended for your child, see Appendix D, Books and Online Sites, which lists several easy-to-read publications that provide more in-depth coverage of the subject.

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