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Bone Marrow & Stem Cell Transplantation

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside some of your bones, such as your hip and thigh bones. It contains immature cells, called stem cells. Stem cells can develop into the red blood cells that carry oxygen through your body, the white blood cells that fight infections, and the platelets help with blood clotting.

If there is a problem with your bone marrow, a transplant can give you healthy new marrow. You could need a transplant because of a disease, such as bone marrow diseases or cancers like leukemia or lymphoma. Or you might need one if a strong cancer treatment kills your healthy blood cells.

There are three types of transplants: autologous transplants, in which patients receive their own stem cells; syngeneic transplants, in which patients receive stem cells from an identical twin sibling; and allogeneic transplants, in which patients receive stem cells from a brother, sister or parent. A person who is not related to the patient (an unrelated donor) also may be used.

Internet Resources

MedlinePlus: Bone Marrow Transplantation

MedlinePlus: Stem Cells/Stem Cell Transplantation
Developed by the National Library of Medicine specifically for consumers, this site is a portal for both government-sponsored and privately developed health information for the lay public. These two links have multiple resources.

Bone Marrow & Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplants
This site offers clear and extensive information about these procedures from the American Cancer Society.

National Bone Marrow Transplant Link
This site was designed to help patients, caregivers and families understand and deal with the emotional and practical aspects of transplants and post-transplant concerns.

National Marrow Donor Program
This site includes information about stem-cell transplants, cord blood centers and more. An excellent glossary is also included.


  • The BMT data book. Munker R. 2009.
  • Autologous and cancer stem cell gene therapy. Bertolotti R. ed. 2008.
  • Caregivers’ Guide for Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant: Practical Perspectives. Jacobs, M. 2007.
  • Stem Cell Divide: The Facts, the Fiction, and the Fear Driving ¬the Greatest Scientific, Political, and Religious Debate of Our Time. Bellomo M. 2006.
  • Stem Cell Now: From the Experiment that Shook the World to the New Politics of Life. Scott CT. 2006.
  • Stem Cells Saved My Life: How To Be Next. Van Zyl B. 2006.
  • Umbilical-Cord Stem-Cell Therapy: The Gift of Healing from Healthy Newborns. Steenblock D. 2006.
  • Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Longe JL, ed. 2006. Available in print in the Health Learning Center or electronically at http://www.nmh.org/nm/health+library+virtual+library.


  • The New Normal: Life After Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant. 46 min.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Health Learning Center at 312-926-5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateJanuary 30, 2012