Children's Hospital Colorado

The Bone Marrow Transplant Process: What to Expect

A close-up view of an IV inserted into a baby's arm that's wearing lime green bandages Best Children's Hospital by US News Cancer 2020-1 Badge

Our team of pediatric experts will support your child and family throughout the bone marrow transplant process. We've compiled these resources for you as a quick reference for before, during or after a bone marrow transplant (BMT).

During the 25-year history of our Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program, our pediatric specialists have completed more than 1,000 bone marrow transplants. And we're here to support your family every step of the way.

What is a bone marrow transplant?

BMT is a process used to replace a patient's immune system and ability to make blood cells. To do this, a patient's own blood cells and immune system are taken away (usually using chemotherapy) and another person's stem cells are infused into the patient. These stems cells will eventually develop into the patient's new blood cells and/or immune system.

How does the BMT procedure work?

The process of getting a BMT is painless and looks similar to a blood transfusion. The procedure does not involve surgery. Your child will stay in their patient room within the BMT unit on the seventh floor for their transplant.

During the procedure, a provider will infuse stem cells from the donor into a central IV line. The stem cells go into the blood stream and eventually make their way into the bone marrow, where they will grow into mature blood cells and new immune cells.

The infusion of stem cells will take 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the type of cells given. Throughout the transplant, our care team will monitor your child carefully. The nurse will check vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, oxygen levels and breathing rate) often while the stem cells are infusing.

Your child may experience fevers or chills, high or low blood pressure, headaches or nausea during the transplant. Severe side effects are rare.

After the patient's immune system and any short-term transplant complications are resolved, the patient will be followed in our HOPE Survivorship clinic.

Contact us

To reach the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Program, call 720-777-6892.