We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant?

By J.M. Willhite
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An autologous stem cell transplant is a medical procedure that utilizes the individual’s own stem cells for the transplantation process, which eliminates the risk of cell rejection. Stem cell transplants are used as a treatment option for a variety of diseases, including cancer and anemia. As with any medical procedure, there are risks associated with an autologous stem cell transplant and these should be discussed with a qualified health care provider prior to starting treatment.

Naturally found in bone marrow and the blood, stem cells are utilized as a treatment for conditions which adversely affect or destroy bone marrow. Stem cells serve to replenish damaged cells by adopting the functions of the diseased cells. Recognized for their regenerative capabilities, stem cells may be used to treat conditions such as leukemia and aplastic anemia, which impact the bone marrow's ability to regulate or produce blood cells. An autologous stem cell transplant may also be utilized to replace bone marrow that may be lost due to chemotherapy. Depending on the individual’s condition, the autologous transplant may use either stem cells derived from bone marrow, blood, or a combination of both.

The process of deriving stem cells from the bone marrow involves the insertion of a hollow needle directly into the bone. A small portion of liquid containing stem cells is extracted from the bone. Known as bone marrow aspiration, this form of stem cell collection may involve several extractions to obtain the required amount of sufficient stem cells to be frozen and stored for later use.

Individuals whose stem cells are extracted from their blood may undergo a process used to stimulate the body's production of new stem cells for the purpose of harvesting. A naturally occurring protein, known as growth factor G-CSF, is administered to promote stem cell production. During the extraction process, the individual’s blood is filtered through a machine designed to separate the stem cells from the blood. Once the stems cells are removed, the residual blood is returned to the body. The collected stem cells are subsequently frozen for future transplantation.

The actual transplantation process involves the use of a central venous catheter, which is introduced into the individual’s chest. Passing through a blood bag into the catheter, the stem cells are delivered into the individual’s blood and, ultimately, bone marrow. Once the stem cells reach the bone marrow, new cell production may take up to three weeks to initiate.

Blood tests are routinely conducted to monitor blood platelet, red blood cell, and white blood cell levels after an autologous stem cell transplant. Some individuals may need to undergo multiple transfusions until the transplanted stem cells begin to regenerate and replace the damaged cells. An extensive antibiotic regimen may be required immediately following transplantation to prevent infection, especially for individuals whose immune systems are weakened from recent chemotherapy. Following a transplant, the individual’s immune system may remain weak for up to two years before it begins to recover. Due to the potentially prolonged impairment of the immune system, the individual may need to take antibiotics for several months as a precautionary measure.

Individuals receiving their own stem cells may be at an increased risk for disease relapse due to the potential for contamination by residual, diseased cells collected during the extraction process. The most common risk associated with this procedure is the development of infection following transplantation. Individuals may also experience complications, including excessive bleeding, nausea, and diarrhea. Long-term complications related to an autologous stem cell transplant may include infertility, an increased cancer risk, and cataracts. The heart, lungs, and kidneys may also be adversely affected over the long term.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.