Although it is called a transplant, a blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) is not an operation. It is an infusion of adult stem cells through a small intravenous (IV) needle in your vein. Stem cells in your bone marrow, the soft, sponge-like material found inside your bones, reproduce into red and white blood cells and platelets. Once they mature, these cells leave the bone marrow and enter the bloodstream.
A BMT replaces defective or damaged cells in patients whose normal blood cells have been crowded out by cancers cells. Previously, BMT referred to a "bone" marrow transplant because stem cells were harvested or removed only from the bone marrow. While this procedure is still recommended for some people, most stem cells today are taken from circulating or peripheral blood in a procedure that is much gentler on the donor. This process is called
hematopoietic stem cell harvest apheresis.
For more information,
read an overview on BMT in our Health Library.