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Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Harvesting In Children


  • Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) harvesting is a procedure that removes stem cells from your child's blood. Stem cells are created in your child's bone marrow. Bone marrow is soft, spongy tissue inside bones. Stem cells may become healthy cells that replace cells that are damaged from sickness. Stem cells removed from your child's blood may be put back into your child or someone else. Before the procedure, your child's caregiver will test his blood. He also will give your child medicine to increase the number of stem cells in his blood.

  • Your child's blood will go through a tube into a machine that removes the stem cells. His blood is then returned to your child's body. Your child might have PBSC harvesting if he has chemotherapy (chemo) cancer treatment, which kills or damages many blood cells. New stem cells may help your child grow healthy blood cells to replace these damaged cells. Your child also may donate stem cells to a sick family member or someone else. New stem cells may help your child or someone else make healthier blood cells. Healthy blood cells may help your child or someone else recover faster after chemo. Stem cells also may help treat diseases such as cancer and bleeding problems.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.


  • The procedure may not harvest enough stem cells and your child may need to have the procedure again. Your child may get an infection where the central line entered his body. During the procedure, your child may have an allergy to the medicine put in the tube to prevent his blood from clotting. The medicine that helps stem cells move into your child's blood may cause him to have bone pain. Both medicines may cause your child to have a fever (high body temperature) or chills. He also may get a headache, nausea (feeling sick to his stomach), or a rash. Your child may get a blood clot, feel dizzy, or have trouble breathing. During the procedure, your child may have very bad bleeding and need a blood transfusion.

  • During the procedure, too much blood may be in the harvesting tube or machine outside of your child's body. Not enough blood in his body may cause your child to have less energy, feel dizzy, faint, or have a seizure (uncontrolled shaking). During the procedure, your child may have damage to his body organs, such as his liver, spleen, or heart. He may die from some of these problems. If your child does not have this procedure, he may not have enough healthy blood cells in his body. If your child has cancer, he may be less likely to recover after chemo treatment. Without the procedure, he or someone who needs his stem cells may become more sick or die. Call your child's caregiver if you have questions or concerns about his procedure, medicine, or care.


Before your child's procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

  • Procedure prep: Procedure prep is care given right before your child has a procedure. Your child will be taken in a crib, wheelchair, or stretcher to the room where the procedure or surgery will be done. The room may have games, toys, and a TV to help your child relax. You and other family members may be asked to stay with your child during the procedure. You may be able to help your child stay calm during the procedure.

  • Special lines: Some tubes may be put into an artery or vein (blood vessel) before, during, or after surgery. These help caregivers watch how your child is doing during or after surgery. Your child may need the following lines:

    • Central line: A CVP line is also called a central line. A central line is an IV catheter or tube that is put into a large blood vessel near your child's neck, groin, or near his collarbone. The groin is the area where your child's abdomen (belly) meets his upper leg. During the procedure, a CVP line is used to deliver blood to and from the harvesting machine. A central line also may be used to give your child medicine.

    • An IV is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.

    • Arterial line: This tube is also called an "art line" or an "A-line". An arterial line is placed into a blood vessel called an artery, usually in the wrist or groin. The art line is attached to tubing with liquid in it. This liquid helps keep the tubing from getting plugged. The tube may be used for measuring your child's blood pressure or for drawing blood. Sometimes the tube is used during the procedure to deliver blood to and from the harvesting machine.

  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your child's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask you or your child about his pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your child's current health.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Blood thinners: This medicine helps stop clots from forming in your child's blood. Blood thinners also may help stop your child's tubing from becoming clogged.

  • Sedative: This medicine may be given to help your child to be calm and relaxed.

During your child's procedure:

Your child's caregiver attaches the tubes from the central line to a special harvesting machine. During the procedure, blood goes through the tubing then into the machine. The machine removes stem cells from your child's blood and collects them into a plastic bag. The machine then sends your child's blood back into his body. The procedure may last several hours to make sure enough stem cells are harvested from your child's blood. Your child's stem cells are sent to a lab and tested to make sure they are healthy. The stem cells may be kept frozen or stored in a refrigerator until they are transplanted. Your child's stem cells also may be transplanted into someone else right away.

After your child's procedure:

Your child will be taken to a room where he will rest. Caregivers will watch your child closely for any problems. Your child should not get out of bed until his caregiver says it is okay. His caregiver will tell you when it is okay for your child to go home or to his hospital room.

  • Your child will need to have blood tests after his procedure. Your child may lose blood during the procedure and might need a blood transfusion. A transfusion is donated whole blood, or parts of blood your child may get through an IV. You may be worried that your child will get AIDS, hepatitis, or West Nile Virus from a blood transfusion. The risk of this happening is very rare. Blood banks test all donated blood for AIDS, hepatitis, and West Nile Virus. If you refuse a blood transfusion for your child, his condition may get worse, and he may die.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your child's stomach and help stop vomiting (throwing up). Your child may have an upset stomach after stem cell harvesting or taking pain medication.

  • Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. Know how often your child should get the medicine and how much. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell caregivers if his pain continues or gets worse. To prevent falls, stay with your child to help him get out of bed.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Harvesting In Children (Inpatient Care)