Choosing a Transplant Center

Ask the Expert is The Bone Marrow Foundation’s question and answer service which allows patients and their families to privately, via e-mail, ask questions of medical professionals about bone marrow or stem cell transplantation (BMT/SCT).

One of the most common requests submitted to Ask the Expert is for help choosing “the best” transplant center. According to one expert, “there is no one answer to this question.” Another medical professional stated, “there is no ‘best’ center,”  but went on to explain that there are “things to consider when you make a choice.”

As the expert said, there are a number of considerations that should affect this decision (see the list below). Doing some research is worthwhile, starting with the patient’s doctor. Some registries provide a list of transplant centers. Talking with people who have had a BMT/SCT about their experience can help identify what qualities to look for in a hospital. It is also a good idea to speak with transplant coordinators, nurses, or doctors at the center(s) being considered to get a sense of their capabilities. If possible, visit the treatment center prior to admission.

In the past, people who needed a BMT/SCT had few choices about where they would go for the transplant. Today, about 15,000 BMT/SCTs are done yearly, at nearly 300 centers in the U.S. and Canada. As a result, patients have more choices available to them and they can choose the transplant center that best fits their needs.

Issues to Consider When Choosing a BMT/SCT Center

  • Transplant Center
    • Years of experience performing transplants
    • Number of transplants peformed
    • Type of transplants performed
    • Treatment plan protocol: research or standard therapy
    • Success rate for your disease
    • FACT accredited: The Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) promotes quality medical and laboratory practice of cellular therapy through its peer-developed standards and voluntary inspection and accreditation program
  • Transplant Team Support
    • BMT/SCT physician training and type of specialty training
    • Experienced nursing team
    • Nurse-to-patient ratio
    • Availability and quality of  psychosocial support services
    • Availability of other healthcare team members
  • Financial Considerations
    • Cost of treatment
    • Experience in dealing with insurance companies
    • Financial assistance services
    • Insurance contract rates for BMT/SCT
  • Long-Term Follow-Up
    • Support for your referring physician
    • Availability to answer your questions
  • Other Considerations
    • For children, pediatric specialization and programs for children
    • Methods of identifying potential donors
    • Proximity to home (when you have a choice)
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About The Bone Marrow Foundation

Founded in 1992, The Bone Marrow Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bone marrow, stem cell, and cord blood transplant patients and their families by providing vital financial assistance, emotional support, and comprehensive educational programs. The Foundation is the only organization of its kind that does not limit assistance to a specific disease, type of transplant or age range.

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