After infusion, your child may:
- Be at risk for infection
- Have some bleeding
- Have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores and extreme weakness
- Have some emotional distress
Your child will get supportive care to prevent and treat infections, side effects and complications.
During this time, your child may:
- Spend several weeks in the hospital
- Be confined to a very clean environment to reduce the chance of infection
- Take multiple antibiotics and other medicines
- Need blood transfusions
- Be given medicine to prevent graft-versus-host disease
- Have daily blood tests
Engraftment of the stem cells happens when the donated cells make their way to the marrow and start making new blood cells. Engraftment usually happens between day +15 and +30. This depends on the type of transplant and the disease being treated. Blood tests will be done often to count blood cells after transplant. Platelets are usually the last type of blood cells to recover.
In some cases, engraftment can be delayed. This can be due to infection, medicines, low donated stem cell count or graft failure. The new bone marrow may start making cells in the first 30 days after the transplant. But it may take months or years for your child’s immune system to fully recover.
The transplant team will tell you when your child is ready to go home. This depends on many things, such as:
- Extent of engraftment
- Your child's overall health
- How far you live from the facility
Before you go home, you'll be instructed on ways to reduce your child’s risk of infection. These include:
- Special air filtered rooms
- Diet restrictions
- Limiting visitors
- Strict hygiene
- Frequent bed linen changes
Your child will then need to see the transplant team often to:
- See how well the treatment is working
- Look for signs of problems such as infection
- Treat side effects, infection and other problems
Long-term success varies from child to child. Emotional support for your child and family is vital during all phases of the transplant. Your transplant team will help you manage the stress of this process and offer support when your child returns home. They'll teach you about medicines, how to care for your child and when and how to contact them with questions.
Your child’s transplant team will also talk with you about your child’s prognosis, follow-up care and future treatments.