Stem cell harvest - symptoms?

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Hi everyone.  My husband is due to go in this week for the harvesting of his stem cells.  Has anyone suffered side effects following retrieval or do they come more following the actual transplant?

thanks in advance x

  • Hi  and welcome to this corner of the community.

    I had two Allo (donor) Stem Cell Transplants so did not go through harvest as an Auto SCT would not work on my type of T-Cell NHL and anyway, I could never be put into remission to do the harvest.

    My brother was my donor for both harvests and apart from a ‘long’ sit and being slightly tired at the end of the two days he had no issues…. he gives blood regularly and he said it was much the same experience just longer.

    My story is long so do hit the link at the bottom to see my story and do get back to me with any specific questions…… you will see that my two SCT journeys were completely different

    Understanding stem cell transplants using your own cells (autologous) - PDF here.

    ((hugs))

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

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  • Hi. I have had an Allo transplant which is different to what you husband sounds like he is having. He is having his own cells back where as I had a donors cells. I often see persons though at the blood transfusion aspherises servos where patients go to have thier own cells harvested. A few days before this treatment your husband will take injections generally in the belly which induce his body to produce extra stem cells which overflow into the blood to be collected. Sometimes you get a funny rumbling sensation in the base of your back or possible a small back ache. When he goes to blood transport service to have his cells collected the blood comes out of one arm by cannula the stem. Elks are collected and the blood returned by cannula in the other arm. It can be a long process up to about 6 hours and they are looking for quality not quantity. If enough are connected in one day ofte correct quality you may have to return a second day , however they prefer to run a bit longer if they can collect in same day. Your husband may feel tired after this process and I know of no other side effects to the collection process.

    Returning the stem cells is a different process and generally requires pre conditioning chemo therapy. I did not have an auto stem cell transplant and it can be different for each person. I had an Allo transplant where the pre conditioning is normally stinger to kill off completely the existing immune system to replace it with donor immune system. 

    good luck to your husband from his collection. Take a good book, laptop or iPad so you don’t get bored,

  • Hi.. when my daughter had her harvesting she had no side effects at all… hope all goes well for your husband.

  • Thankyou so much for your reply, it’s much appreciated. He ended up needing bloods and platelets and a femoral line fitting prior to collection but luckily all cells were collected after one go. Next step to see the consultant to get a date for transplant. 
    thankyou. 

  • Thankyou so much for your reply. All collected now and no side effects since Blush

  • Thankyou so much for your reply, it’s much appreciated. He ended up needing bloods and platelets and a femoral line fitting prior to collection but luckily all cells were collected after one go. Next step to see the consultant to get a date for transplant. 

  • This is good news, getting bloods and platelets are all part of the journey.

    I see you joined the T-Cell Group….. what type of T-Cell Lymphoma does he have?

    Do make sure that you find out the conditioning treatment your husband is having to take down his immune system before he gets his Stem Cells back…… There are a number of different conditioning treatments with most being some strong chemo but I actually had no chemo for my first Allo SCT as I had a new drug (that was 9 years ago) and 2 weeks radiotherapy. 

    Preparing for going through the time in the SCT Unit is important….. I live in Inverness but my SCT was in Glasgow a 8-9 hr round trip drive so it looked like my wife and I were going on a world cruise as we had to take everything down with us with my wife staying in hospital accommodation for 4 weeks for my first SCT then 7 weeks for my second.

    This old post is a place where group members have collected the things that helped them go through there time in the SCT unit - Checklist for SCT Unit and this link is taken from the Lymphoma Action and had some good first hand tips for the SCT process Top tips for stem cell transplants.

    We are here to help out and answer questions at any time ((hugs))

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

    Community Champion Badge

  • Thankyou Mike.  He has peripheral T cell NHL. We are seeing the consultant next week and are hopeful to get a date as to when he goes in. They have already said he will get 6 days of strong chemo and then on day 7 they will transplant. 
    thanks so much for the links you have provided, we did see someone arriving for their transplant this week and it did look like they were also packed up for a world cruise! 
    I hope that you are now doing well?

    lisa

  • I am doing great Lisa….. and so will your husband.

    Over my first 14 years my official diagnosis jumped between Cutaneous T-Cell NHL and Peripheral T-Cell NHL as the biopsies were never 100% conclusive…… but eventually we stuck the flag in the CTCL diagnosis.

    The conditionings like chemo regimes with have initial like BEAM, LEAM….. my se ind conditioning was FluMelAlem30.

    The important letter to look out for is an M as this stands for the drug Melphalan.

    Melphalan is a type of chemo therapy drug that is actually derived from Nitrogen Mustard Gas - think WWI in the trenches. This is when chemotherapy was first developed as it had a positive effect on cancer patients returning from WW1

    The most sensitive and effected area in the body will be the mouth and throat so 30mins before the start of the M infusion they gave me some Paracetamol 'why the Paracetamol?' I asked 'You will find out' and also put a freezer bag full of Ice lollies on my table...... so I chain sucked these ice lollies for the 30mins before, during the M infusion that took about 30mins then was told to keep going for a further 30mins. I lost count but must have had 25.......... and the mother of all freeze brains every...... hence the Paracetamol.

    Some SCT units don't give ice lollies!!!!! so just go out and get them and the ward staff will put them in the freezer until he need them.

    The two weeks leading up to the M and all the way through until I got out of the unit I was using a two pack oral mouth rinse called Caphosol. So I set my phone for every 3 hours to make sure that I was doing this all day.

    My head consultant said that the Caphosol was rather expensive but if I used it correctly it would save me a lot of mouth pain and having to be on other drugs to over come any bad mucositis. I did well with only one very small area developing and it was not a problem.

    Melphalan can also strip the gut of healthy bacteria so bad diarrhoea is inevitable and lengthy. It also takes the gut a long time to recover so don’t expect it to go for a while.

    Once mucostis gets past a certain point the Caphosol will not be so effective so more specific anti-fungal/painkiller treatments need to be used to get the condition under control.

    So what ever they give to to use, use it EVERY day as it does help.

    ((hugs))

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

    Community Champion Badge

  • That’s really good to hear… I hope you get a date very soon for the transplant… my daughter is now over the 30 days after transplant and doing amazingly… if you need to ask anything then please do.