St. Louis Children’s Hospital has provided pediatric bone marrow transplants since 1991. Our bone marrow transplant program was the first of its kind in Missouri, created specifically for children.
Now, our pediatric Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program offers three types of treatment:
- Stem cell transplant: We extract stem cells from the blood of the patient or a donor. After the patient receives chemotherapy, we inject the stem cells into the patient’s bloodstream through an IV.
- Bone marrow transplant: We extract bone marrow, which contains a large supply of stem cells, from a donor or from the patient during a minor surgery. After the patient receives chemotherapy, we inject the stem cells into the bloodstream through an IV.
- Cellular therapy: These therapies involve harvesting different types of cells from the patient and altering them before placing them back in the patient’s bloodstream. Some cellular therapies are only available through clinical trials.
At Siteman Kids, you will find:
- A team that includes nationally recognized leaders in stem cell transplants and research
- Facilities specially designed to handle a pediatric transplant patient’s sensitive immune system
- Leading-edge treatments like tumor targeted cellular therapy and gene therapy
- Reduced-intensity conditioning, which lowers the risk for side effects from treatment
What Are Stem Cell Transplants?
During stem cell transplants, we replace diseased cells with healthy cells, either from the patient’s own body or from a donor.
Bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside bones, produces blood stem cells. Initially, doctors performed bone marrow transplants to provide patients with new stem cells. Now, doctors often harvest stem cells directly from blood in a simpler procedure called a stem cell transplant.
Stem cell transplant types
Depending on your child’s condition, we may use one of the following types of transplants:
- Autologous stem cell transplant: Uses your child’s own blood, which we harvest and freeze before your child begins treatment (this type of transplant is often used to treat cancer)
- Allogeneic stem cell transplant: Uses blood from a family member who is a tissue match or an unrelated donor who is a tissue match
- Syngeneic stem cell transplant: Uses stem cells from your child’s identical twin (eliminating the risk of rejection)
Conditions we treat with stem cell transplants
We use stem cell transplants to treat several conditions, including:
- Cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma
- Sickle cell disease and other blood disorders
- Bone marrow failure syndromes
- Immune deficiencies
- Genetic disorders
- Metabolic disorders
How Do Stem Cell Transplants Work?
First, your child gets chemotherapy. This destroys unhealthy or cancerous cells and makes room for new cells. It also weakens the immune system, which makes it less likely that the body will reject a transplant.
Our Stem Cell Transplant and Celluar Therapy Program tailors conditioning to suit each specific disorder we treat. We reduce conditioning intensity whenever possible. This means we often use lower doses of chemotherapy, leading to fewer long-term side effects from these drugs.
Next, after chemotherapy, and sometimes a few days of rest, your child receives new stem cells using a process similar to a blood transfusion.
After the transplant
Your child will need to stay in the St. Louis area — either at a hotel or in a home — for at least three months. This stay makes it easier to treat any complications if they arise. To help make this process as smooth and easy as possible, we will:
- Work with your family to find the right accommodations
- Schedule an appointment for your whole family to meet with a psychologist, who will help you understand the process and how it will impact your lives
- Work with the outpatient team to make the transition as seamless as possible from hospital to outside
Bone Marrow Donation
You can help a young patient by donating blood or bone marrow. Register to be a donor.
Contact the Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program
Why Choose the Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program?
Our doctors are experts at treating children using stem cell transplants, bone marrow transplants and stem cell therapy. St. Louis Children’s Hospital is at the forefront of researching innovative new treatment options.Learn More