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Bone Marrow Transplantation

Loyola's Bone Marrow Transplantation Program is the largest transplant program in Illinois, having performed more than 2,900 transplants to date. Loyola is a participating transplant, apheresis, and collection center in the National Marrow Donor Program network. It is one of the many types of transplantation services at Loyola. 

A full spectrum of transplant options are available including autologous bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell, allogeneic related and unrelated bone marrow and allogeneic unrelated umbilical cord blood transplants.

The program is actively involved in research, providing individuals with an opportunity to participate in a variety of clinical trials including national breast, lymphoma, leukemia, ovarian, testicular and multiple myeloma studies.

Bone marrow is located in the center cavities of all bones and within the ends of the long bones of your arms and legs. Bone marrow is composed of the following cells:

  • Red blood cells (RBC) or erythrocytes - These cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to all body tissues and organs.
  • White blood cells (WBC) or leukocytes - These cells kill germs that can cause infection.
  • Platelets or thrombocytes - These cells are responsible for clotting and preventing excessive bleeding.
  • Stem cells - These cells multiply, divide and mature in the bone marrow. They are released into the blood stream as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Diseases like leukemia or lymphoma can damage bone marrow. Exposure to certain chemicals can kill the stem cells. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can harm normal bone marrow. Sometimes the cause of bone marrow failure is unknown.

The goal of the bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant is to replace the diseased or nonfunctional stem cells with healthy stem cells or to replace bone marrow cells that are damaged while treating a cancer with high dose therapy. These new cells will cause the bone marrow to again function normally.

There are three types of bone marrow transplants:

  • Allogeneic - This is a transplant of umbilical cord stem cells from one person to another. The donor may be a blood relative or someone not related to you. A donor match is determined by special laboratory tests called HLA typing.
  • Syngeneic - This transplant uses the bone marrow from an identical twin. Identical twins have identical genetic material; therefore, their HLA type matches perfectly.
  • Autologous - In this transplant, the patient acts as his or her own donor. Either the bone marrow (taken from the hip bones) or peripheral blood stem cells (taken from a blood vessel) are removed, stored, and given back to the patient at a later date.

The type of transplant you will have is determined by your diagnosis.

Our Team

The transplant team is dedicated to maintaining your physical and mental fitness. Various team members will answer your medical questions, help you through the system, and work with you and your family. Care is provided by Loyola’s experienced multidisciplinary transplant team that includes attending physicians, an advanced practice nurse, transplant coordinators, professional nursing staff, dietitians, social workers, chaplains and a clinical psychologist.