Blood & Marrow Transplant Program

The Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, established in 1982, provides life-saving treatment to children with cancer as well as diseases of the immune system, aplastic anemia, inherited diseases of the bone marrow and some metabolic diseases. The goal of the transplant is to replace unhealthy or destroyed bone marrow stem cells with normal bone marrow stem cells from a donor or collected from the blood of the patient.

In 2012, UCSF's Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant program was named an "over performer" for allogeneic stem cell transplants for the second consecutive year by the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research. Designated "over performers" exceed expectations for patient survival rates. The designation was based on the number of transplants performed annually, adjusted for risk, and then the chance for survival one year after transplant was estimated.

Nationwide, the estimated chance of survival after one year was 78.6 percent, compared with the UCSF Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program survival rate of 88.6 percent. Out of 169 BMT programs in the country, just 10 were named over performers. UCSF's BMT program therefore ranks in the top 6 percent in the nation.

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We are a leader in using alternative donors when a sibling with the same tissue type is not available. Alternative donors include matched unrelated volunteers or partially matched relatives. We performed the first partially matched bone marrow transplant on the West Coast, using bone marrow from a parent for a child with a severe immunodeficiency disease. We also performed the first T-cell depleted transplant on the West Coast for a child with leukemia in 1985, and more recently, the first pure blood stem cell transplant from a parent to a child with severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID) in North America.

Our team includes doctors, nurses, social workers, child life specialists, pharmacists and nutritionists, who work together to provide the best care available in a comfortable, supportive environment. We provide comprehensive clinical, nutritional and developmental evaluations as well as psychosocial support for patients and their families.

Bone marrow transplants (BMT) can be a lifesaving treatment for children who have cancer, such as leukemia and Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as well as disease of the immune system and other bone marrow disorders and some metabolic diseases.

Transplants involve replacing diseased marrow with healthy marrow, injected into the bloodstream through an intravenous tube. The marrow may come from a healthy donor or healthy stem cells may be collected for the blood of the patient.

The goal of the transplant is to replace unhealthy or destroyed bone marrow stem cells with normal bone marrow stem cells from a donor. The transplant is performed following a conditioning regimen that includes high doses of chemotherapy and sometimes radiation. The long-term survival rate varies with disease — from 30 percent to 70 percent — for children with leukemia. The rates are 80 percent to 95 percent for children with genetic diseases.

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You'll need a referral from your child's pediatrician or specialist to make an appointment. Once you have the referral, please call the number below.

Getting Here

Blood and Marrow Transplant Program
505 Parnassus Ave., Sixth Floor, Room M-659
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 476-2188
Fax: (415) 502-4867

What to Bring

  • Health insurance information including authorizations or referrals
  • List of your child's prescription medications and dosages
  • List of medications your child is allergic to
  • List of questions you may have
  • Recent test results related to your child's condition
  • Paper and pencil to take notes

What to Expect

  • Initial Consultation
  • Pre-Transplant Work-Up and Evaluation
  • Informed Consent Conference

Patient Services

The BMT Process

Six Phases of the BMT Process

The BMT process can be broken down into six phases.


Donors

When a matched relative cannot be found, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital is a leader is using alternative donors. Alternative donors include matched unrelated donors or partially-matched relatives.

Reducing Risks

Although BMT remains the best and sometimes only treatment option for some diseases, it does carry certain risks. These risks include: damage to healthy tissues such as the brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. While the risk is rather great with regular BMT, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital has developed novel protocols to minimize the damage caused by the transplant process with the following:


After Transplant

After bone marrow stem cells migrate to the bones and begin to produce healthy red cells, white cells and platelets. It is in this critical stage that compications of the chemotherapy and radiation therapy as well as Graft-versus-Host Disease (GvHD) may develop. The risk of developing infections lasts for as long as six to 18 months following a BMT. Your child will be followed by the transplant team along with his or her own doctor.


Learn More

If your child is a prospective patient, you can take an online tour of the BMT unit and clinic for a glimpse of where your child will be staying and receiving treatments.

BMT recipients also have special dietary concerns that help make their transplants successful. There are also emotional aspects to transplants for both the recipients and their families.

Family members and friends who are planning to visit a BMT patient should be aware of the special rules they'll need to follow.

Related Information

Ways to Give

Clinic Team

Morton Cowan
Dr. Morton Cowan,
pediatric bone marrow transplant surgeon
Biljana Horn
Dr. Biljana Horn,
pediatric bone marrow transplant specialist
Christopher Dvorak
Dr. Christopher Dvorak,
pediatric blood disorders specialist
James Huang
Dr. James Huang,
pediatric blood disorders specialist
Robert Goldsby
Dr. Robert Goldsby,
pediatric cancer specialist
Jason Bloom
Jason Bloom,
financial case manager

Patient Experiences

  • Harry Drake
    Betting on Harry: Boy Diagnosed with Leukemia Receives Life-Saving Treatment
  • Lavinia Epps
    Teen Inspired to Share Her Bone Marrow Transplant Experience
  • Marcus Espino
    Bone Marrow Transplants Save Boy with Hurler's Syndrome
  • Vann Hale
    Unrelated Marrow Donor Saves Youngster's Life
  • Melissa Macalisang
    Father Donates Marrow to Save Young Daughter's Life