While the average stay in the hospital is six to eight weeks, for some children who are recipients of specially processed marrow, such as T cell depleted, purged with chemotherapy or monoclonal antibodies, or marrow/umbilical cord blood from an unrelated donor, the period of increased risk is longer than normal.
Depending on your child's disease, the type of transplant and where you live, you may be required to stay in the Bay Area for up to three months or longer after the bone marrow transplant. This can be an extremely stressful situation and should be thoroughly considered and anticipated prior to coming for transplant.
Before your child is admitted to the hospital, you will talk with the clinical nurse specialist or nurse coordinator and the social worker in order to help you plan the details of your stay. Our social worker will discuss all the available alternatives for housing near UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and will counsel you about making plans for the rest of your family while you are away from home. We know that you will need to suspend your usual family routines, and we hope to help minimize this disruption by discussing and providing for everyone's needs in advance.
Other Family Members
We think it is important to have brothers and sisters involved in the transplant process whenever possible. Ideally, they should come to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital before the transplant begins, to learn about what will happen and to feel that they are a part of this family event.
We have found that most brothers and sisters do best when allowed to live at home, or with relatives or friends, to continue "normal" living during the week. Visiting UCSF on weekends is important to continue normal family relationships and minimize the loneliness that separation might cause.
Only children 12 years of age and older will be allowed into the patient's room from the date of admission until his or her absolute neutrophil count (ANC) is over 500 for three consecutive days. Siblings who are under 12 may "visit" the patient by going into the anteroom just outside the patient's room. The nurse must screen all visiting children before entering the BMT Unit.
Hospital life is informal, so please bring clothes that are comfortable for you. The weather in San Francisco is usually in the low 50s during winter — from November through March — and the low 60s for the rest of the year. Pack a jacket and sweater for daily wear and a heavy jacket or light coat for evenings. Rain and fog occur frequently.
Stuffed animals, games, writing and drawing material, books, hobbies, toys, projects and schoolwork can be brought inside the transplant room. Both parents and patients need projects to pass time. You may want to bring posters to decorate the room. And, remember to bring pictures of family members.
Children are encouraged to wear their own clothes. Clothing should be washed and dried in a hot dryer. After the clothes are dry, place them in a clean plastic bag and seal the bag. For items such as stuffed animals or cloth toys, you can place them in a hot dryer for 10 to 15 minutes and then into a clean plastic bag. These precautions have been shown to adequately kill any germs.
Hand toys can be washed off with alcohol at the hospital prior to bringing them into the room. Games and books can go into the room as long as they are clean.
Your child's belongings should be brought to the BMT Unit on the day of admission. Please do not bring them any earlier due to lack of space. After admission they can be brought in at any time. Also, due to the small size of the BMT rooms, we ask that you regulate the amount of personal items brought in. Our goal is to prevent a stockpile of things that aren't being used frequently. Please be aware of things that your child doesn't seem to be using often and remove them from the room. Rotating toys from home on a weekly basis will keep the rooms clear of clutter and prevent boredom.
Each room is equipped with a radio, CD or tape player, television, VCR and computer with Internet access. We've found that home movies can be very entertaining. Only electrical items that have a three-prong cord and are checked out by our hospital electrical safety teams are allowed in the BMT room. Battery operated items are fine.
We hope these guidelines will help make this process easier for you. If you have any questions or concerns, please ask us. Talk to the nurse coordinator or clinical nurse specialist about arranging to bring clothes and other belongings into your room.