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Health Information For Teens
A stem cell transplant is when doctors put healthy stem cells into someone’s bloodstream to replace their stem cells.
It can take a while to feel better after a stem cell transplant, but the treatment can be very helpful for some illnesses.
Stem cells are cells that can develop into many different types of cells. The stem cells used for transplants form blood cells. They become:
Stem cell transplants can help people with:
Doctors can get the stem cells from the:
A person who provides the stem cells is a donor. For some illnesses, people can be their own donor. Their stem cells are taken out, frozen, and transplanted back later. Other times, someone else donates the stem cells.
When stem cells come from another person, the stem cells must have similar genetic makeup. Usually, a person’s brother or sister is a good match. A parent or even an unrelated person sometimes can be a match.
If the donor stem cells are not a good match (and sometimes even if they are):
Before a stem cell transplant, doctors place a central line (or central venous catheter). This type of IV (intravenous) line goes into the skin and into a large vein near the heart. A central line can stay in the body longer than a regular IV. It gives the medical team a way to give medicines and collect blood for testing without doing a lot of needle sticks.
Stem cell transplants are done in the hospital. First, the person getting the donated stem cells has high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation to:
Then, the person gets the donor stem cells through an
After someone has a stem cell transplant, their body needs time to make new red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. During this time, they’re at a higher risk for infections, bleeding, and other problems.
Most people stay in the hospital for 3–5 weeks after the transplant. Their medical team will:
It takes the immune system about a year to recover after a stem cell transplant. Until then, the person can get very sick from infections. Even a mild infection, like a cold, can be serious. To help you avoid infections:
Follow your medical team’s instructions for:
Most teens who have had a stem cell transplant feel better over time after they leave the hospital. Your health care team knows how tough recovery can be, and how important it is to get emotional support. Your doctor, a hospital social worker, or child life specialist can help you get through this difficult time, so be sure to ask.
You or your parent should call your doctor right away if you:
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Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that makes red blood cells change shape and cause health problems. Find out more in this article for teens.
Find out about the mysterious, life-sustaining fluid called blood.
About 5 million people a year get blood transfusions in the United States. This article explains why people need them and who donates the blood used.
Lupus is a disease that affects the immune system. Learn how lupus is treated, signs and symptoms, how to support a friend who has it, and more.
The immune system is made up of special cells, proteins, tissues, and organs that defend people against germs and microorganisms.
Check out our cancer glossary for lots of easy-to-read definitions.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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