Quote from mac23
I have a family member who needs a BMT and would like to know what the process is like. I've read what I could on the internet but would like a nurses perspective. I know all patients are different but how do people generally do?
Thanks in advance. She's 24 and doesn't have cancer but has aplastic anemia and needs the transplant for that purpose.
I am a new RN, and have just completed my first 6 months on an Oncology unit in NYC. We do lots of BMT's and it makes a big difference whether the patient is receiving his own stem cells or from a donor. With aplastic anemia, your relative will probably be receiving stem cells from a donor.
It is a long process and the patients often remain in the hospital for many weeks. Until the engraftment occurs, they are severely neutropenic and, therefore, at extreme risk of infection. They are often on multiple antibiotics, mostly for prophylactic reasons. They can get terrible mucositis and it can go from the mouth all the way through the digestive tract. They often need blood and platelet transfusions at least every few days.
Another main cause for concern is Graft vs. Host Disease. This is when the donated stem cells start attacking the patient as a foreign invader and is often deadly. I would be afraid to do it, but at the same time, this process is a life-saving one and many people end up doing well with it.
I wish you much luck and I hope this has helped give a different perspective.