What Is a Blood or Marrow Transplant (BMT)?

Dr. McCarthy explains the difference between allogeneic and autologous transplants and the level of care needed to ensure a successful outcome.

A blood or marrow transplant (BMT) is also called a bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant, because it involves hematopoietic stem cells.

Hematopoietic stem cells are manufactured in your bone marrow, the soft material inside your bones. They can transform into specific kinds of blood cells, depending on what your body needs at the time: red cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body; white cells, which fight infection; and platelets, which cause your blood to clot after an injury.

When hematopoietic cells move into the bloodstream, they are called peripheral blood stem cells or blood progenitor cells (BPCs).

Some types of blood-based (hematologic) cancers can be treated with a stem cell transplant to replace the diseased marrow. The specific type of transplant depends on where the stem cells come from:

  • If the transplanted stem cells come from a donor’s marrow, it is called a bone marrow transplant.
  • If the transplanted cells come from the blood of the patient or a donor, it’s called a peripheral blood stem cell transplant.

There are two basic types of transplant: allogeneic (a donor supplies the healthy stem cells) and autologous (your own blood stem cells are used).

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