Stem cell transplant

Also known as a bone marrow transplant

This procedure involves removing diseased bone marrow and replacing it with healthy bone marrow stem cells. It is used to treat diseases such as leukaemia, and certain blood or immune deficiency diseases.

What do I need to know?

undefinedIt can take a few days to prepare. Pre-hospital checks include a dental examination, heart check, chest and lung assessment, bone scan and blood tests. A tube will be placed into your chest through which you will receive fluids, nutrients and medication. The tube will remain in your chest for around six months. The process takes about an hour but you will need to stay in hospital for some weeks to allow your immune system to recover. Side effects include tiredness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.


There are serious risks because your immune system will not be working at full strength while you recover. Complete recovery can take up to a year and you must be extremely careful about not exposing yourself to infection during this time.


If it is successful, a bone marrow transplant may completely or partially cure your illness. Success depends on factors such as the type of illness or cancer you have, your age and general health and the type of bone marrow transplant you require.

Learn more

Stem cell or bone marrow transplant Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, 2015
New Zealand Bone Marrow Donor Registry (NZBMDR)Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, 2015
How does bone marrow donation work? New Zealand Bone Marrow Donor Registry  (NZBMDR), 2009
Bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant Kids Health NZ, 2013

Credits: Editorial team.