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Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant


A bone marrow or stem cell transplant is a procedure to remove stem cells from blood or bone marrow. The stem cells are put into your body to treat disease. Stem cells are able to become other cells, such as red blood cells. Stem cells can also travel to your bone marrow and can become new bone marrow cells. You may be given your own cells or cells from a donor.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow.
  • Your heart rate is faster than normal.
  • You have stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • You have a rash or sores on your skin.
  • You have a fever.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your pain is not controlled.
  • You gain weight.
  • You have sores, swelling, or redness in your mouth.
  • You have a cough that does not go away.
  • You have blood in your bowel movement or urine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines help decrease pain and inflammation. Medicine may be given to decrease the risk of your body rejecting the transplant. You may also need medicines to fight or treat an infection caused by bacteria, a virus, or a fungus.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


  • Clean your teeth and mouth as directed. Good oral hygiene may decrease mouth discomfort caused by side effects of medicine. Use a soft brush. Brush your teeth and gums 2 to 3 times a day. Floss gently. Ask your healthcare provider about oral rinses that may decrease pain.
  • Drink fluids as directed. Medicines given before or after stem cell transplant may cause damage to the kidneys or bladder. Fluids help flush the medicines out of your body and prevent complications.
  • Follow your prescribed meal plan. You may have side effects such as nausea and vomiting after stem cell transplant. Talk to your healthcare provider about planning meals and choosing foods that will give you enough nutrition.
  • Deep breathe and cough. Take deep breaths and cough 10 times each hour. This will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath, then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
  • Slowly increase your activity. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to normal activities, and when you can drive. Start slowly with activities such as short walks. Rest when you need to. Do more as you feel better and have more energy.
  • Know the signs of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Ask your healthcare provider for more information on the signs of GVHD.

Prevent an infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use germ-killing gel if soap and water are not available. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a diaper, and sneeze. Wash your hands before you touch your face, and prepare or eat food.
  • Keep your home clean. Wipe down bathroom and kitchen surfaces with cleaners that contain bleach. Clean floors and carpets regularly.
  • Use safe food practices. Do not eat fresh fruits or vegetables until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Cook meat thoroughly. Store extra food and leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours after preparation.
  • Practice good hygiene. Bathe every day. Tell your healthcare provider if you notice sores on your skin. If you are female, always wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom. Do not use tampons. Tampons may increase your risk of an infection.
  • Do not spend time with people who are sick. This includes people who have a cold, flu, infection, or rash. You should stay out of crowded places, such as malls and elevators.
  • Be careful with pets and animals. Do not change your cat's litter box. Play gently with cats. Scratches from cats or other animals can get infected. Stay away from puppies, kittens, and young animals. They can spread disease and cause you to get an infection.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return for more blood and urine tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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 Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.