Bone Marrow Transplant Service (Statewide)

Royal Hobart Hospital

Bone Marrow Transplant Service (Statewide)

What is a stem cell or bone marrow transplant?

Blood stem cells are made in the bone marrow which is a spongy material filling the inside cavities of our bones.

Sometimes the bone marrow itself can be diseased or is removed by high dose chemotherapy. A stem cell transplant is used to treat some types of cancers including myeloma, leukaemia or lymphomas. It can also be performed for very selected cases of severe autoimmune disease.  The aim of a transplant is to achieve a cure or a long remission (a period of time free from disease).

A transplant allows for very high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to be given to treat disease. The high-dose treatment destroys the bone marrow and stem cells. So, after the high-dose treatment the patient will be given an intravenous infusion (drip) of either their own cells (autologous transplant) or donated cells (allogeneic transplant).

Collecting stem cells

Stem cells can be taken from the blood or rarely from the bone marrow (usually in the case of an unrelated donor).

Collecting stem cells from the blood

Before the stem cells taken from the bloodstream, the cells are made to move from the bone marrow into the blood. This involves being given a short course of injections of a growth factor (G-CSF) sometimes after chemotherapy. |

The growth factor is given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously). Regular blood tests are performed to measure the quantity of stem cells in the blood; when there are enough they will be collected.

Collecting the stem cells takes 3–4 hours. Blood is collected, through a cannula or a central venous access device (CVAD), into a machine called a cell separator. The separator spins the blood to separate out the stem cells. These are collected, and the remaining blood is given back through the cannula or CVAD. This procedure is usually done as a day patient on the Oncology Outpatient Unit, at either the Launceston General Hospital or the Royal Hobart Hospital.

The stem cells are counted to make sure that enough have been collected, before being frozen until they are required after the high-dose chemotherapy treatment. If more stem cells are needed, another collection is performed the next day.

Collecting stem cells from the bone marrow

Although it’s much more common for stem cells to be collected from blood, in some situations the stem cells may be collected from the bone marrow.  This is usually when a donor (allogeneic transplant) is being performed.  Bone marrow stem cell collection is safe but requires overnight admission to hospital and a general anaesthetic.

Contact Us

  • Statewide Bone Marrow Transplant Coordinator
    (03) 6166 8078
  • Royal Hobart Hospital Oncology Outpatient Unit (8.00am - 5.00pm)
    (03) 6166 8238
  • Royal Hobart Hospital Switchboard
    (03) 6166 8308
  • Launceston General Hospital Oncology Outpatient Unit (8.00am - 4.30pm)
    (03) 6777 6140
  • Launceston General Hospital Switchboard
    (03) 6777 6777


OrganisationWeb AddressPhone
Cancer Council of 6233 2030 6223 7550
Cancer Institute of (03) 6223 7550
Leukaemia Foundation of 1800 555 021
Lymphoma 1800 359 081
Myeloma Foundation of 1800 444 996
UK MacMillan   
Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry