If your child has been diagnosed with blood cancer, a bone marrow transplant (BMT) could be lifesaving. Advances in BMT have dramatically increased survival rates for childhood blood and bone marrow cancers. Our dedicated pediatric team will assess your child’s health and discuss the benefits and risks of a potential bone marrow transplant.
UCLA Health’s Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant & Cellular Therapies Program has been performing pediatric bone marrow transplants since our program began in 1973. We continue to use the most advanced treatments available to maximize your child’s chance for success.
How could a bone marrow transplant help my child?
A bone marrow transplant is a way to eliminate blood cancer and regenerate healthy cells. The procedure kills off cancerous cells and infuses the body with new, healthy ones.
Many children can recover from cancer. BMT can give hope of a successful outcome for children with conditions such as:
The bone marrow transplant process
The time leading up to your child’s BMT may take weeks or even months. During this period, your child’s transplant team will work to find a donor who is the best match for your child. Once we identify a donor, the transplant process can begin.
Preparing for your child’s bone marrow transplant
Your child will be admitted to the hospital to prepare for the transplant. This preparation will include what’s called conditioning treatment.
Conditioning usually includes several rounds of chemotherapy, full-body radiation or both to kill off the cancerous cells. Find out more about preparing for your child’s bone marrow transplant.
The bone marrow transplant procedure
After the conditioning treatment, your child will be ready for BMT. The procedure itself involves transferring healthy stem cells into your child’s body. We deliver the cells through a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) that goes into a blood vessel in your child’s chest.
The infusion may take several hours. Your child may be awake or partially sedated during the procedure. Doctors will closely monitor your child throughout the infusion for side effects such as fever, chills, hives or chest pain.
After the bone marrow transplant
If the transplant is successful, your child’s body will start producing new stem cells and regenerate a new immune system. During this recovery phase, your child may need to be isolated to prevent contact with any germs that could cause infection.
We have many resources available to help your child cope throughout the process. Find out more about recovery from bone marrow transplant.
Pediatric bone marrow transplant: The UCLA difference
When you choose UCLA Health for your child’s treatment for leukemia or other blood cancer, you place your trust in one of the country’s most expert teams. Our Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant & Cellular Therapies Program performs more than 30 of these complex procedures for pediatric patients each year.
That high patient volume means that our experts have the knowledge and experience you want for your child. Other considerations that set our program apart include:
- Award-winning pediatric facility: We perform pediatric bone marrow transplants at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, which U.S. News & World Report recently recognized as one of the nation’s best. Families come to UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital from around California and across the country. Once here, you have access to some of the nation’s top pediatric oncology and transplant specialists. Meet our team.
- Integrated care: Your child’s team will include specialists from across UCLA Health. That means your child can get all the care he or she needs — including cancer treatment, bone marrow transplant and management of any other related conditions — in one place. If another hospital treated your child previously, we will coordinate with that medical team to provide seamless care. Learn more about us.
- Most advanced therapies: We continuously research new ways to engineer stem cells. This technique allows us to use donors who aren’t an exact match. Our team performs a variety of stem cell transplants for children and young adult patients, including:
- Autologous transplants, which harvest, freeze and then re-infuse a patient’s own stem cells.
- Allogeneic transplants, using stem cells from a related or unrelated bone marrow donor.
- Cord blood transplants using stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood.
- Specialized support for kids: Children and young adult patients have many needs beyond their medical care. That’s why our pediatric bone marrow transplant team includes a variety of social and emotional support professionals. And our education specialists work with children’s schools to help them stay up to date on their education.
- Access to clinical trials: Our physicians are active in clinical trials in all areas of pediatric hematologic cancer treatment. After an initial evaluation, your child’s care team will discuss with you whether your child is a candidate for one of our current clinical trials.
To make an appointment with our Pediatric Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant & Cellular Therapies Program, please call 310-825-6708.