Types of Transplants
An autologous stem cell transplant allows doctors to give you very high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to treat your condition – you might hear this called high dose therapy.
This therapy causes damage to your bone marrow and immune system but it also removes the abnormal cells that cause your condition. The transfusion of your own stem cells back into your blood allows your immune system to recover. The stem cells move back into your bone marrow where they start making new blood cells.
After your transplant you will not develop Graft vs Host Disease because you receive your own stem cells, so they won’t react to the other cells in your body. However, you are likely to still experience some short-term side effects and you will be at risk of developing infections as your body recovers from the treatment.
An autologous transplant could be a treatment option for you if:
You have blood cancer, such as myeloma or lymphoma.
You’ve already had treatment with chemotherapy.
You have a certain type of cancer that will respond well to high dose chemotherapy, such as germ cell tumours.
You have a blood disease that affects your immune system, such as severe autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease. However, this is only in rare cases when other treatment options haven’t worked.
Your siblings are the people most likely to be a match for you. This is because they have the same parents as you, so there’s a 25% chance of them having your tissue type. If you have any brothers or sisters, your hospital will test them before anyone else.Having a sibling transplant can bring up lots of different emotions for everyone involved. Make sure you speak to your transplant team about any concerns you or your family have.
Matched unrelated donor (MUD) transplants
If you don’t have the option of a sibling match, and your transplant centre feels that it’s a suitable option, you could be given an MUD transplant. This is when your new stem cells come from a stranger whose tissue type matches your own.
Your transplant team, most likely a transplant co-ordinator, will get in touch with The Sunflower Fund for you. We’ll search for a match, checking all the registered donors in the south Africa, and we will also look for donors available internationally.
A haploidentical transplant uses stem cells from a family member whose tissue type or HLA is half matched to yours. Parents are always a half-match for their children, and vice versa. Siblings have a 50% chance of being a half-match for each other.This means that you have a greater choice of potential donors – almost all people have at least one potential haploidentical match in their family. Haploidentical transplants are becoming more common but unfortunately, they are not suitable for everyone. Your transplant team will be able to give you more information about your best possible option.