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Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Harvesting in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about peripheral blood stem cell harvesting?

Peripheral blood stem cell harvesting is a procedure to remove stem cells from your child's blood. The stem cells can be given to your child or to someone else to treat a disease.

How do help my child prepare for the procedure?

  • Your child's healthcare provider will tell you how to help your child prepare.
  • Tell your child's provider about all medicines he or she currently takes. The provider will tell you if your child needs to stop any medicine for the procedure, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to give or not give on the day of the procedure.
  • For several days before the procedure, your child may need to eat foods high in calcium, such as milk and yogurt. Have him or her drink more liquids as directed.
  • Your child may need medicine to increase the number of stem cells in his or her blood. This includes injections for about 5 days before stem cell harvesting. Your child may also need blood or urine tests before having his or her stem cells harvested.

What will happen during the procedure?

  • Your child's healthcare provider will insert an IV catheter into your child's vein, usually in an arm. The provider will then attach the catheter to a machine called a blood cell separator. This machine collects your child's blood and separates the stem cells from his or her blood. Then the machine returns the blood to your child's body through another IV catheter inserted into the other arm.
  • Providers will watch your child for pain or tingling in his or her mouth, hands, or feet. The procedure usually takes 3 to 5 hours a day over a period of 1 to 3 days. Stem cells can be used right away or frozen and used later.

What will happen after the procedure?

Your child will be taken to a room to rest. He or she will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not let your child get out of bed until his or her healthcare provider says it is okay. He or she will then be able to go home or be taken to a hospital room.

  • Medicines may be given to prevent or treat pain, nausea, or a bacterial infection.
  • Your child may feel tired for several days after the procedure.

What are the risks of peripheral blood stem cell harvesting?

Calcium levels in your child's blood may decrease and cause numbness and tingling in his or her mouth, hands, or feet. The procedure may decrease the number of platelets in your child's blood and increase the risk for bleeding. Rarely, the procedure may cause fainting or vomiting.

Care Agreement

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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