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Types of transplant

Depending on your situation, you might have a transplant using your own stem cells (an autologous transplant). Or using stem cells from another person (an allogeneic transplant). 

This page describes the types of transplant and the stages of each.

For information about:

  • what a transplant is
  • collection of stem cells
  • having a transplant
  • side effects

Having your own stem cells (autologous transplant)

When you have a stem cell transplant using your own stem cells it is called an autologous transplant. It's more usual to have stem cells collected from your bloodstream. But some people might have stem cells collected from their bone marrow. 

Stages of a transplant using your own stem cells

Preparation
To prepare you for your transplant, you have various tests. You might have chemotherapy to get rid of as many lymphoma cells as possible. This chemotherapy might also help the bone marrow make more stem cells.

You have injections of a growth factor if you are going to have stem cells taken from your bloodstream. The growth factor makes your bone marrow produce more stem cells so they spill out into the blood.

Collection of stem cells
You have stem cells collected from your bloodstream through a drip. To collect stem cells from your bone marrow, you have a general anaesthetic. A doctor puts a needle into you hip bone to remove the bone marrow.

Your stem cells are frozen and stored.

High dose treatment
Then you have high dose treatment (also called conditioning treatment). 

You have your stem cells back
After treatment you have your defrosted stem cells back through a drip into your bloodstream. 

Blood count recovery
These cells find their way back to your bone marrow where they make the blood cells you need. This recovery of blood cells is called engraftment. 

Having stem cells from another person (allogeneic transplant)

You might have stem cells from:

  • a brother or sister (sibling match)
  • or a person unrelated to you whose stem cells are similar to yours (matched unrelated donor or MUD) 

This is called an allogeneic transplant. It's more usual to have stem cells collected from your donor's bloodstream. But some donors might have stem cells collected from their bone marrow.

Finding a donor
To make sure that your donor's cells match, you and your donor will have blood tests. These are to see how many of the proteins on the surface of the cells match yours. This is called tissue typing or HLA matching. HLA stands for human leucocyte antigen. 

When you might have a donor transplant
You might have a donor transplant if your lymphoma:

  • comes back after a transplant of your own stem cells (autologous transplant) 
  • is advanced and is in your bone marrow 

Stages of a donor stem cell transplant

Stages of a donor stem cell transplant

Preparation and finding a donor
To prepare you for your transplant, you have various tests. You might have chemotherapy to get rid of as many lymphoma cells as possible. Your medical team look for and test possible donors.

High dose treatment and stem cell collection
Once a donor is found, you have high dose treatment (also called conditioning treatment).

Your donor has injections of a growth factor if they are going to have stem cells collected from their bloodstream. The growth factor makes the stem cells spill out into the blood. When there are enough stem cells, they have these collected via a drip from their bloodstream. 

Your donor has a general anaesthetic if they are having stem cells taken from their bone marrow. A doctor puts a needle into their hip bone to remove the bone marrow.

You have your donor's stem cells
You then have your donor's stem cells through a drip into your bloodstream. 

Blood count recovery
These cells find their way to your bone marrow where they make the blood cells you need. This recovery of blood cells is called engraftment. 

Preparation and collection of stem cells

One of the first stages of your transplant is collecting stem cells from the bloodstream or bone marrow. 

Last reviewed: 
18 Dec 2017
  • Non Hodgkin's lymphoma : diagnosis and management (NG52)
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2016

  • Indications for Autologous and Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: Guidelines from the American society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation 

    N Majhail and others 

    Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 2015. Volume 21, Issue11, pages 1863–1869

  • Hematopoietic stem cell tranplantation in Europe 2014: more than 40 000 transplants annually

    JR Passweg and others  

    Bone Marrow Transplant, 2016. Volume 51, Issue 6, pages 786-792

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