CareTalk Blog: Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders

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Blood & Bone Marrow Transplant

Through the Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (NCCBD), our pediatric blood and bone marrow transplant specialists offer families the hope of a potential cure for a wide range of diseases, including cancers (like leukemia, lymphoma, and solid tumors), blood disorders, immune system diseases, and many inherited genetic diseases and bone marrow failure syndromes.

 
About Blood and Bone Marrow Transplants in Children

A blood and bone marrow transplant replaces diseased or damaged cells
in children whose normal blood cells either aren’t working correctly or have been crowded out by abnormal cells. These damaged or diseased cells are immature cells that can develop into healthy blood cells in children after a transplant.

Jacksonville

Nemours Children's Clinic, Jacksonville

807 Children’s Way
Jacksonville, FL 32207
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Phone: (904) 697-3600

Hours: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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What to Bring
  • photo ID
  • medical and pharmacy insurance cards
  • preferred pharmacy name and phone number
  • names and dosage of all medications, including over-the-counter medication, your child is currently taking
  • guardianship and custody papers, if a legal guardian rather than a parent accompanies your child
New Patients

Bring these forms for your first appointment:

Returning Patients
Blood & Bone Marrow Transplant Form
  • New Patient Referral Form (PDF)
 
Forms & Resources
New Patient Forms
Returning Patient Forms
Resources for Patients & Families
Support Services
  • CaringBridge: visit this free site offering support and communication to help your family through your child's medical journey
  • Ronald McDonald House of Jacksonville: a safe, free, family-centered home away from home when your child is sick and needs to be hospitalized

When your child is diagnosed with cancer or a blood disorder and needs treatment or a blood or marrow transplant, your immediate concern is getting the best possible care. At Nemours Children’s Clinic, Jacksonville, we understand your concerns and we can help. Our board-certified pediatric specialists have years of experience and advanced training in helping children with blood and bone marrow disorders.

Some of the conditions we commonly treat with a blood or bone marrow transplant (also called a BBMT, BMT, or stem cell transplant) include, but are not limited to:

  • sickle cell disease: a common inherited disorder in which an abnormal hemoglobin gene causes red blood cells to become sticky, blocking the small blood vessels
  • thalassemia (Cooley’s anemia): a genetic condition in which one of the two proteins that help makeup hemoglobin in red blood cells is lacking
  • leukemias: cancers that affect the white blood cells
  • solid tumors: like neuroblastoma
  • bone marrow failures: including severe aplastic anemia, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH)
  • lymphoma: including Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s
  • immunodeficiency diseases
  • other rare disorders in which a bone marrow transplant is a treatment option


 
National Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Accreditation & Recognition

Our program is one of 14 institutions in the U.S. that perform autologous and allogeneic transplants to have been recognized and accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapies (FACT) for more than 10 years. Autologous transplants use your child's own cells, while allogeneic transplants use cells donated by a parent, sibling, or an unrelated donor.

Also, Nemours is recognized by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) as an affiliated center for matched unrelated donor transplants.

 
Partnering With Mayo Clinic & Wolfson Children’s Hospital

The Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program of Mayo Clinic, Nemours Children’s Clinic, Jacksonville, and Wolfson Children’s Hospital is a unique collaboration with:

  • Wolfson Children’s Hospital, where the actual transplants take place in the children’s inpatient unit
  • Mayo Clinic, which maintains the program’s adult transplant unit and cryopreservation laboratory for storing the stem cells
  • Nemours Children’s Clinic, Jacksonville, which provides kids’ care before and after the procedure
 
Your Child’s Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Team
When your child is referred for a blood or marrow transplant procedure, you and your child will meet with several members of our team including:
  • pediatric hematologists-oncologists: doctors who treat children with blood disorders and cancers
  • pediatric transplant physicians: doctors who care for children getting stem cell transplants
  • pediatric radiation oncologists: doctors specially trained in radiation therapy
  • transplant coordinator: who helps you navigate services and treatments throughout the entire process
  • nurses with expert training in caring for children with all types of cancers, blood and bone disorders, and bone marrow transplant 
  • licensed clinical social worker who is involved from the first visit and who will help you and your child prepare for the inpatient stay as well as a provide assistance with other resources including financial support
  • registered dietitian to help with nutritional health throughout the transplant process
  • psychologists to evaluate your child and offer interventions throughout treatment
  • therapy services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy to help maximize strength, conditioning, and rehabilitation
  • Child Life specialists: who help your child adjust and provide emotional and moral support. Also includes art and music therapists and others who provide recreational activities during clinic visits and hospitalization
 
How Does a Pediatric Blood or Bone Marrow Transplant Work?

Children who need a BBMT must have “conditioning therapy” – chemotherapy or radiation – to destroy abnormal cells and make room for new healthy cells. However, during conditioning some of your child’s healthy cells will be damaged. That’s why your child is given healthy stem cells through a transplant – to help your child’s body to recover from chemotherapy and/or radiation. New, healthy cells start building about a week later.

Healthy cells are found in:
  • bone marrow: the tissue inside of bones
  • blood circulating in your child’s body: also known as peripheral blood
  • umbilical cord blood: donated by a mother after the birth of a baby
 
Before Your Child’s Bone Marrow Transplant Procedure

Before your child’s transplant, we’ll do a complete medical history and physical examination to determine your child’s condition, appropriateness of the transplant, and availability of a matching donor. Then we’ll design a treatment plan especially for your child.

 
During Your Child’s Bone Marrow Transplant Procedure

Your child’s transplant takes place at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, but before the transplant, your child will receive a few days of “conditioning therapy.” On the day of your child’s transplant, the blood, marrow, or cord blood is given through an intravenous (IV) line while your child watches TV, plays games, creates art, or works with child life specialists.

Your child will remain in the hospital until the new cells that were just infused through the IV have created enough healthy cells on their own. During this time, we’ll monitor your child closely, taking protective measures to reduce the risk of infection during this recovery time.

 
After Your Child’s Bone Marrow Transplant Procedure

After your child is discharged from the hospital, it’s important to make sure your child is seen by our specialists for frequent follow-up visits. Many of the children and families we care for who live more than 30 minutes from Nemours typically stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Jacksonville. This allows you to have easy access to Nemours and a home away from home until your child’s transplant doctor feels your child is ready to go home again and be seen by your usual primary care doctor.

Also, during your child’s hospital stay, our transplant coordinator will meet with you and your child for post-transplant education to ensure your child’s successful recovery. You and your child will receive a detailed educational packet with information including:

  • home nursing care
  • easing back into normal activities
  • infection prevention
  • long-term care guidelines  
 
We Value Your Involvement in Your Child’s Care

We may know how to treat your child’s condition, but no one knows your child better than you. That’s why we want you to be an active participant in the decision-making process for your child’s treatment. We’ll explain every step in easily understandable terms, present all options including alternative methods, and invite your input.

Whatever you’re facing, know that at Nemours we do whatever it takes to give your child the very best, most compassionate treatment possible. We treat every child as we would our own — your child, our promise.