I'm John Cunningham. I'm Professor and Chief of the Section of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation at Comer Children's Hospital.

Stem cell transplantation is used to treat two types of disease in children. Firstly, children with leukemia, lymphoma, or solid tumors of childhood. And secondly, there are certain genetic diseases of childhood where stem cell transplantation has been shown to be an outstanding curative option.

Stem cell transplant is used to treat cancer in two situations. In the first situation, which is called autologous stem cell transplantation, the child's own bone marrow or stem cells, as they're now more frequently called, are harvested from the child. And then the child is given very high doses of chemotherapy, which not only destroys the tumor, but also destroys their own bone marrow as an unfortunate side effect. After the chemotherapy, we give the child back their stem cells or their bone marrow through a vein. In the second situation, at which we are particularly expert, we use either a brother, or sister, or another donor as the stem cell source.

On the day of the transplant, the transplant is brought to the room. I and a nurse practitioner supervise the transplant procedure, which essentially is where we hang a small bag containing the stem cells, connected up to a line which has been placed in the child's chest to allow easy access for multiple medications. And the cells are administered just like they would have a blood transfusion. Stem cells have a really cool GPS or a guidance system, which allows them to flow through the bloodstream to the bone marrow, where they repopulate the bone marrow and provide a new bone marrow for the child.

The transplant procedure at Comer Children's Hospital is a multidisciplinary, complex experience for the child and the family. What I mean by that is the child will be in hospital for four to six weeks after a transplant. And so significant services are required by that child over the period of the transplant. Firstly, when the child enters the hospital, the child is placed in a specially designed room, which has specially filtered air to reduce the risk of complications. Secondly, the child is in an area where there are experienced transplant nurses who only care for children who are undergoing stem cell transplantation.

A parent should consider having their child receive stem cell transplantation at Comer Children's Hospital for three reasons. We have outstanding experience in taking care of children with leukemia, lymphoma, and genetic diseases and successfully curing them of their malignancy or underlying genetic disease. We have a very large transplant program with over 15 transplant physicians who advise us on caring for each individual child. This advantage is not shared by any other center in the region.

Finally, at Comer Children's Hospital we have an outstanding group of subspecialty clinicians, who are required for successful stem cell transplantation. This is critical for the success of the majority of children who we care for at our institution.

She had lymph nodes moved to the area impacted by her breast-cancer treatment.

If we can bring healthy lymph nodes from elsewhere in the body that are not damaged into the site where the lymph nodes have been damaged, over time, they can re-establish connection with the open lymphatic vessels to re-establish function.

Even though Jacquetta was hesitant at first, Dr. Chang made the reluctance quickly go away.

And I always say, if you ever have something like what I've had done, or if you have any trouble with lymphedema-- the breast cancer, or anything like that-- you have to, have to see Dr. Chang, because to me, he was the greatest.

UChicago Medicine is one of the few places these procedures for lymphedema are offered. And Jacquetta is happy she was directed here.

The care is super, super excellent. Doctors all came in very, very nice. Everybody was just so wonderful. And I will recommend it to everyone to go there at the University of Chicago.


The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital pediatric stem cell transplant service has extensive experience in stem cell transplants for children of all ages — from infancy through young adulthood. This life-saving treatment is used for some patients with blood diseases, certain types of cancer, immune system disorders or genetic diseases.

Stem cell transplantation (also referred to as bone marrow transplantation or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation) treats serious diseases through a process that destroys the patient’s damaged immune system and replaces it with healthy stem cells (blood stem cells — regenerative cells that become red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets or plasma cells — are an integral component of a person’s immune system). The new stem cells restore the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow, thus creating a new immune system in the patient’s body.

Why Choose UChicago Medicine for Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant

With a pediatric stem cell transplant team that includes national leaders in transplant for leukemia, lymphoma and non-malignant diseases, we are committed to ensuring that each patients recieves excellent care.

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