St. Louis Children’s Hospital is a national leader in developing safer, more effective ways to provide stem cell transplants to children with blood diseases.
A stem cell transplant can cure sickle cell disease and thalassemia. The procedure replaces the child’s abnormal blood cells with healthy stem cells from a donor, halting production of diseased cells.
Stem cell transplant involves finding a matched donor, usually a close family member. In some cases, an unrelated donor may be chosen through the National Marrow Donor Program registry. Pre-transplant evaluations ensure the donor and recipient’s bodies are healthy enough for transplant.
Stem cells sources include:
- Bone marrow – the spongy, blood-forming tissue inside of bones
- Circulating blood
- Umbilical cord blood donated by parents after a baby’s birth and stored for future use. The donation does not harm the baby.
Benefits of Stem Cell Transplant
St. Louis Children’s Hospital performs reduced-intensity stem cell transplants, using lower doses of chemotherapy to prepare the child for receiving the new stem cells. The lower doses lead to fewer long-term side effects.
The stem cell transplant cure ends the patient’s pain crises or need for chronic transfusions. The transplant will not reverse previous problems that have already happened, such as strokes or bone infarctions (a loss of blood supply to a part of the bone, causing the bone to eventually die).
Your child will receive care from the stem cell transplant team and a wide range of specialists before, during and after the 4-6 week transplant hospital stay.