Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT)/Stem Cell Transplant

A blood or bone marrow transplant (BMT) is often used to treat cancers (and some other conditions) that affect blood cells or bone marrow, such as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and amyloidosis. BMT eliminates cancerous blood cells and replaces them with healthy stem cells. Successful stem cell collection, storage, and transplant can be a complex process, but you’re in great hands at the UAB O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, where you have access to a full team of experts and our Blood and Marrow Transplantation & Cell Therapy Program, the only program of its kind in Alabama.

We often assess the need for BMT using a bone marrow biopsy, a procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy) for analysis. These samples are usually taken from the hip bones. Because bone marrow is responsible for forming blood cells, it can help us diagnose, stage, and learn more about related conditions. We examine the marrow for the number, size, and maturity of its blood cells and/or abnormal cells.

How BMT Works

The first step of BMT is receiving chemotherapy or radiation to kill diseased cells – this also kills healthy red blood cells and white blood cells, or platelets. The second step of BMT is receiving a transplant of healthy stem cells to restore a healthy cell count. Stem cells are those with the unique ability to become red or white blood cells. Stem cells will grow in a patient’s marrow in the few weeks following a transplant. We monitor patients throughout this process, during which blood transfusions may be necessary to normalize platelet levels.

Where Do the Stem Cells Come From?

When a patient needs a transplant, stem cells are collected from either the patient themselves or a donor. Stem cells can be collected from bone in the operating room, from the blood stream (this is known as apheresis), or from umbilical cords.

Blood and Marrow Transplantation & Cell Therapy Program

The UAB Blood and Marrow Transplantation & Cell Therapy Program (BMT&CT) is the only blood and marrow transplant program in the state and provides an entire range of blood and marrow transplant options for patients in Alabama and surrounding states. We provide our patients and families with expert care and honest, compassionate recommendations to assure that they have the best possible outcome of therapy with the lowest possible risk of discomfort or disability.

Highly experienced: More than 3,535 transplants have been performed at UAB

State-of-the art: Our BMT&CT unit is state-of-the-art, with 29 beds and an adjacent after-hours clinic. Our program is supported by an advanced cell processing facility with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) capability, is fully accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), and are a dedicated, quality Blue Distinction Center of Excellence.

Advanced care: UAB provides both autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplants, including matched unrelated donor, haploidentical donor, umbilical cord transplants, and Immune Effector Therapy (CAR-T).

Team approach: You are cared for by a full team that includes doctors, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, clinical care coordinators, transplant coordinators, patient care technicians, research/data staff, social workers, educators, nutritionists, and other support staff who provide the best care for patients throughout the transplant process.

Clinical trials: As a nationally ranked academic medical center, we provide patients access to the latest advances in transplantation, often offering options that are not available anywhere else.

Cell Therapy Laboratory (CTL): UAB has its own Cell Therapy Laboratory which helps ensure proper preparation of cell therapy products, cell freezing, storage, separation, and analysis. The UAB CTL is FDA registered, CUA certified, FACT and CAP-accredited facility, with a 2,500 square foot state-of-the-art facility that offers a full scope of clinical transplant and cellular therapy services.

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