When a bone marrow transplant (also called a BMT) or umbilical cord blood transplant is a treatment option, it is helpful to educate yourself and your family about what to expect.
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You may want to have a discussion with your doctor about transplant centers that meet your specific needs. Some things to consider are the transplant center's experience and statistics on transplant outcomes. Also, because you will be spending a lot of time with your transplant team, you may want to visit the facility and meet the transplant team. You should also check which transplant centers are covered by your insurance.
To learn about the types of experience to look for, see Choosing a Transplant Center.
To review the results of transplants at a specific center, see U.S. Transplant Centers. From this list you can find information specific to that center: contact information, diseases treated, transplant experience, and patient survival.
It is helpful to understand the costs of a transplant and the expenses covered by insurance. Some costs not covered by insurance may include office visits, travel, housing costs if the transplant takes place far from home, and co-pays for medication.
If you have no insurance, you may be eligible for state or county programs or other forms of financial help.
For information about transplant expenses, insurance coverage, and resources to help you find answers to financial questions:
If friends or family want to raise money for costs not covered by insurance, see Fundraising for a Friend or Family Member.
Planning with family and friends before the transplant is important. Adjust, organize, and delegate duties and schedules, so that everyone knows how best to help you. You also may find it helpful to speak with other transplant survivors for emotional support.
To learn specific ideas that have helped other patients plan for transplant, and to find other transplant patients and survivors, see Getting a Transplant.
Many transplant survivors say they feel better after one year. Some people feel better sooner, for others it takes more time.
During the first several months after a transplant, your immune system will be weak and unable to fight infections easily. During this time it helps to focus on eating well, avoiding infections, and staying healthy. By one year after transplant, many transplant survivors are able to return to work or school.
During recovery, most transplant survivors have some side effects from their transplant. Some of these effects or complications last for several months and are easy to manage. Other effects are long-term and can be serious or painful. You cannot always control whether you will have these long-term effects, but you and your doctor can take steps to treat and cope with them.
To learn how to stay healthy during recovery and manage the effects of a transplant, see Life after transplant.
To find out about tests and medications you may need after transplant, see Post-Transplant Care Guidelines.
A transplant is a long and intense process that will affect the entire family. Learning what to expect can help you, your child, and your family cope with the challenges ahead.
In general, children tolerate the transplant process better than adults. You can help your child by talking about what to expect at transplant and during recovery with a sense of hope. By encouraging your child to express emotions and ask questions, you help your child take an active role in his or her recovery.
If your teenager will have a transplant, be aware that your teen will give up a great deal of privacy and independence. You will need to work with your health care team so that your teen can participate as much as possible in his or her treatment plan and day-to-day life.
Giving your child or teen information geared to his or her developmental age, along with a sense of hope, will help your child cope with treatment.
For more information about how to talk with your child or teenager who needs a transplant, see Preparing for Your Child’s Transplant.
Learn how to comfort and provide support to a friend or family member undergoing a bone marrow or cord blood transplant.