Giving back the stem cells
A day or more after the high-dose treatment has finished, your stem cells will be given back to you through your central line, PICC line or implantable port into a vein.
The process of giving back the stem cells is similar to having a blood transfusion.
Some people have mild side effects when the stem cells are given back, such as breathlessness or feeling sick (nausea). Rarely a severe allergic reaction can happen. You’ll be closely monitored by the staff caring for you during the infusion. You might notice a strong smell similar to sweetcorn for a few days after the infusion. This is from the preservative that’s used to protect the stem cells during storage.
The stem cells travel to your bone marrow, where they can begin to make blood cells. It can take up to two weeks before some of the new blood cells are released into the bloodstream. During this time you are very vulnerable to infection and other problems such as bleeding and anaemia.
You may be given growth factors by injection to stimulate your bone marrow to produce new white blood cells more quickly. Using growth factors can reduce the length of time you’re at risk from certain side effects.
You may have to stay in a single room to help protect you from the risk of infection. Once the number of blood cells (blood count) begins to rise, your medical team will start to plan for you to go home.