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Stem Cell Transplant Process

The UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is one of the largest providers of stem cell transplantation in western Pennsylvania. Our expert team is skilled in using stem cell transplants to treat blood cancers and disorders like sickle cell and aplastic anemia.

Your stem cell transplant team will answer all your questions and guide you through transplant journey.

Before your transplant, we will carefully assess your health to make sure you're healthy enough for a transplant by:

  • Testing your heart and lung function.
  • Checking for and treating viral and bacterial infections
  • Doing any other needed tests.

This process may take one week to one month, based on your needs.

Recovering from a Stem Cell Transplant

While waiting for the transplanted stem cells to settle in the bone marrow, you'll have low numbers of blood and immune cells. During these few weeks, we'll care for you in our stem cell recovery unit to protect you from viruses or bacteria.

To keep you healthy as you heal, we will give you:

  • Antibiotics or antiviral drugs to prevent and treat infections.
  • Drugs that signal your body to make white blood cells.
  • Platelet or red blood cell transfusions.

Your care team will check the number of circulating blood cells to help know when your body has recovered from the transplant.

Stem Cell Transplant Side Effects

Every treatment approach to cancer can cause side effects.

For stem cell transplants, side effects can include:

  • Bleeding
  • Fatigue
  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • Hair loss
  • Infection
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood counts
  • Mouth and throat pain
  • Nausea
  • Organ damage

Your care team will help you cope with any symptoms and take steps to increase the chance of a successful transplant.

When you leave the hospital, we'll give you details for at-home care and help schedule follow-up visits.

Contact Us About Stem Cell Transplant for Blood Cancer

To reach the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers, call 412-864-6600.