Ask about stem cell & bone marrow transplants

Jane is a haematology nurse with extensive experience in stem cell and bone marrow transplants. She also has experience in managing late side effects of transplants. She'll aim to respond within 2 working days.

Stemcell transplant

Posted by

My daughter had a stem cell transplant 4 weeks ago I was her donor ,she is now showing signs of graft versus host disease so far it is attacking her gut and bowels and her skin ,I just need a straight answer can someone die from graft versus host disease I am very worried I would appreciate your reply

Jane N - Macmillan
Posted by

Dear Kind,

Firstly can I say how sorry I am that you find yourself in this situation.  Now to your question, well a straight question deserves a straight answer, yes unfortunately in some cases graft versus host disease is life threatening and you can die.  However, it is not directly the Graft versus host disease that does the harm, patients very often die from an infection as a consequence of all the steroids and drugs such as Ciclosporin lowering the patients immune system so they are less able to deal with infections.

Graft versus host disease is not rare, patients are more likely to get Graft versus host disease than not and it is considered to be a good sign that the Graft is working and your daughter could be getting a graft versus disease effect which reduces the chance of her disease coming back but, as you are finding out, it can be difficult to get under control particularly when early post transplant. 

That said I have seen numerous patients have severe graft versus host disease needing huge doses of steroids and other treatments, survive and live a long and happy life.

My fingers and toes are all crossed for your daughter in the hope that she comes through this.

Please come back and let me know how she gets on, and if you have more questions

Best wishes


Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.  

Posted by

Hi , I am Mike and I am dropping in past from our dedicated Stem Cell Transplant Forum where folks from many blood cancers hang out and support each other.

I have had two Allo SCT with cells from my brother and yes, had GvHD and as Jane says most folks will develop this, I actually developed GvHD 10 months following my second SCT.

Why not follow the like to our very supportive Stem Cell Transplant Forum group as this will open up your concerns to a wider audience who know exactly what you and your daughter are going through at the moment.

Just follow the link above, hitting ‘Join the Group’ tab just under the main group name, then go to the 'Start a Discussion' tab and set up your own Discussion and introduce yourself to the group - you could just copy an paste what you have in this first post.

I will keep an eye open for you.

When you feel up to it try putting some information in your profile. This really helps others when answering. It also means that you don't have to keep repeating yourself. Just click on YOUR username, select 'Edit Profile'. Put as much or as little in your profile and you can amend it at any time - you can see members profiles by hitting our forum names like @Thehighlander.

All the very best and ((hugs))

Mike - Thehighlander

It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela