For some children with SDS, treatment includes a transplant of blood-forming stem cells from a healthy donor (stem cell transplant). It is also called a bone marrow transplant or hematopoietic cell transplant. Hematopoietic (him-at-oh-poy-EH-tik) stem cells are immature cells that grow into blood cells.
This treatment helps your child’s bone marrow make healthy blood cells. With normal levels of healthy infection-fighting white blood cells, a child is no longer at risk for severe infections. A transplant also lowers the risk of leukemia and a preleukemia condition called myelodysplastic syndrome. A transplant does not improve problems SDS can cause to the pancreas or bones.
Our Non-Malignant Transplant Program specializes in stem cell transplants for children with noncancer conditions, including marrow failure. Some children with SDS are too sick to tolerate the powerful drugs or radiation (called conditioning) that is usually used to prepare their bodies for the transplant. Our team – led by Dr. Lauri Burroughs – has developed better ways to prepare them, called reduced-intensity conditioning. We continue to fine-tune conditioning treatments to improve survival and reduce complications.
We perform the transplants here at Seattle Children’s, working closely with our partner in the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutch. Fred Hutch pioneered this lifesaving procedure and is one of the largest stem cell transplant centers in the world.