700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Your Child Needs a Bone Marrow Transplant: What's Next?

Jul 23, 2020
Young boy

“Your child needs a bone marrow transplant.”

Hearing these words as a parent is overwhelming and results in many questions. Where will my child get a bone marrow transplant? Will our family insurance pay for a transplant? What do I look for in a pediatric bone marrow transplant center?

Finding answers to these questions is difficult, as parents and caregivers often don’t know where to turn for information.

What Is a Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Center?

Children requiring a bone marrow transplant are referred to a pediatric transplant center. Such centers have experience performing transplants and caring for children, adolescents and young adults after they receive a bone marrow transplant. This may be available at the same hospital where the child is receiving care.

However, children requiring a bone marrow transplant may need to be referred by their primary medical provider to a pediatric hospital that has an experienced blood and marrow transplant/cell therapy program.

As a Caregiver, What Should I Look for in a Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Center?

Several factors should be considered in choosing your child’s transplant center, including your referring doctor’s opinion, your child’s insurance, your available support network and the experience of the transplant center where your child is being referred.

Specifically, the transplant center should have experience with the blood-forming graft (bone marrow, peripheral blood, umbilical cord blood), donor (related and unrelated), and transplant type required for your child’s condition. See “Stem Cell Transplant: Who Can Benefit and Who Can Be the Donor” for more information.

The transplant center should also be recognized in the performance of stem cell transplants and cellular therapies by regulatory agencies, including the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) and the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) as well as be affiliated with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP).

Lastly, the transplant center should have medical, intensive care and surgical experience in caring for transplant-related complications, including infection and organ dysfunction. Ideally, the transplant center should also offer novel approaches in care and therapies for those complications.

One Team to Ensure That You and Your Child Are Not Alone

A bone marrow transplant is a life-changing event, both for you and your child; this is why a diverse team, providing specialized, compassionate care to patients and families, is needed.

Transplant teams have many members, each with a unique role, but all united in the same care goal – to provide the best possible outcome for your child.

Transplant teams consists of transplant and supportive care physicians, advanced practice nurses, coordinators, pharmacists, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. There are also licensed therapists experienced in working with transplant patients to maintain their physical health and to provide recreational activities.

My Child’s Primary Doctor Has Referred Us for Transplant Care. What Happens Next?

Once referred, your child will be assigned a transplant coordinator who will oversee your child’s pre-transplant care. Specifically, your child’s transplant coordinator will be your contact for arranging visits and scheduling tests needed prior to your child’s transplant. They will also work with your primary medical team and insurance company.

During this pre-transplant phase, you and your child will meet with a physician, who will be your child’s primary transplant and cell therapy doctor. He or she will review the type of transplant that your child will receive and answer your questions related to side effects. He or she will also review the testing that your child will need to have done prior to his or her admission for transplant.

During this time, you and your child will also meet with other members of the team, including a social worker, who assists with your family’s unique needs, including coping strategies and work-related issues.

At Nationwide Children's Hospital, our accredited Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cell Therapy Program is focused not only on curing your child’s transplantable disease, but also on caring for your child as a person and supporting you and your family through your child’s transplant journey. We have assembled an expert team to care for your child’s medical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

To learn more about the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant/Cell Therapy Program at Nationwide Children’s, click here. You can also request a visit to meet with our team at (614) 722-8860.

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Jeffery Auletta
Jeffery Auletta, MD
Hematology, Oncology and BMT

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.