Bone Marrow Failure Program
What is the Bone Marrow Failure Program?
Bone marrow failure means that the soft area in the center of most bones (marrow) does not make enough blood cells. These include:
- White blood cells to fight infection
- Red blood cells to carry oxygen
- Platelets to help the blood clot and stop bleeding
The caring experts at Seattle Children’s Bone Marrow Failure Program:
- Diagnose conditions that can cause bone marrow failure
- Care for children, teens and young adults with these conditions
- Treat related health problems that affect some children with bone marrow failure
What’s special about the Bone Marrow Failure Program at Seattle Children’s?
The complications of bone marrow failure can be life threatening. For the best outcome, your child needs a team experienced in treating children with marrow failure conditions and other health problems that may arise. Our Bone Marrow Failure Program brings together many different types of healthcare providers to care for your child. We work with you, your child and your child's primary doctor to get the right care for your child.
The program is part of our Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. If you would like an appointment, ask your child’s primary care provider to refer you. If you have a referral or would like a second opinion, contact us at 206-987-2106 or by email.
Our physician-scientists are nationally known for treating children and teens with bone marrow failure. We form a multidisciplinary team to diagnose and treat your child. We tailor the team to your child’s needs, with experts in marrow failure, genetics and the immune system (immunologists).
Our experience helps us find the specific cause of your child’s bone marrow failure. Although rare, it may be related to an abnormal gene passed down from parents to children (inherited). Our genetic counselor can talk with you about the pros and cons of genetic testing and explain test results.
Bone marrow failure can affect your child’s body in many ways and may increase their risk of cancer. Your child will get expert care from specialists in the many body systems that may be affected, including oncologists, if needed. At regular visits, we check your child and do tests to prevent and treat problems early.
The doctors who will guide your child’s care are board certified in pediatric oncology-hematology. This means they are approved to give the special care your child needs and they constantly expand their knowledge about blood disorders.
For some children, bone marrow failure is cured by a transfusion of young blood-forming cells from a healthy donor. This is called a stem cell transplant. Our Non-Malignant Transplant Program specializes in stem cell transplants for children with noncancer disorders. Our transplant team is very experienced in preparing children for transplant and helping them recover.
We do the transplants here at Seattle Children’s, working closely with Fred Hutch, our partner in the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). Fred Hutch pioneered stem cell transplants and is one of the largest stem cell transplant centers in the world.
See statistics and outcomes for details on the number of stem cell transplants we do each year and survival rates for children who receive them.
We are active in national and international research groups that work to understand causes, improve care and find cures for blood disorders and bone marrow failure. We take part in registries that collect data about patients to help us learn more about diseases and improve treatments. These include:
- Shwachman Diamond Syndrome Registry
- North American Pediatric Aplastic Anemia Consortium (NAPAAC)
- Severe Chronic Neutropenia International Registry (SCNIR)
At Seattle Children’s our physician-scientists work to:
- Better understand how the body makes and balances blood cells and how this may relate to blood disorders
- Improve treatments for children with blood conditions
- Find the causes of these conditions
- Reduce complications and side effects for children who need stem cell transplants
Through our partnership in the SCCA, our patients who need stem cell transplants have access to promising new therapies offered only in research studies. These studies are called clinical or therapeutic trials. They may involve gene therapy, new conditioning treatments or options for children who do not have good donor choices for stem cell transplants.
Having a child with bone marrow failure can be stressful for the whole family. We help you fully understand your treatment options and make the choices that are right for your family.
We care for your whole child — not just their disease. Your family has a full team behind you. As needed, your child will receive care from specialists in nutrition, pain management, pharmacy, physical therapy and emotional health. Read more about the supportive care we offer.
We work with many children and families from around the Northwest and beyond. Whether you live nearby or far away, we can help with financial counseling, schooling, housing, transportation, interpreter services and spiritual care. Read about our services for patients and families.
Conditions We Treat
Some children are born with a condition that causes marrow failure. Others develop marrow failure during childhood.
At Seattle Children's, we diagnose and treat all types of bone marrow failure. This includes:
- Aplastic anemia
- Diamond-Blackfan anemia
- Dyskeratosis congenita
- Fanconi anemia
- GATA2 deficiency
- Inherited forms of neutropenia
- Inherited forms of thrombocytopenia
- Shwachman-Diamond syndrome
These conditions are all different. They can affect the body in different ways. Symptoms vary based on the types of blood cells affected and the other body systems involved.
We work with professionals from many fields to plan treatment and to care for children with bone marrow failure. See the full team at the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
If you would like an appointment, ask your child’s primary care provider to refer you.
Providers, see how to refer a patient.
Scheduling an appointment
- How to schedule an appointment at Seattle Children’s.
- If you already have an appointment, learn more about how to prepare.
- Learn about resources such as useful links, videos and recommended reading for you and your family.