Preparing for Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Contact Information

(608) 265-1700 (clinic)

The Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant program at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin has served adult patients since 1981 and pediatric patients since 1982.


What should I bring to the hospital?

  • Loose-fitting, comfortable clothes (sweat pants, shorts, t-shirts)
  • Shoes for walking in the halls
  • A list of your current medicines
  • Pictures, posters and other small items to make your room cozy
  • CD player, iPod, or laptop computer, if you wish
  • Scent- and dye-free laundry detergent, if you want to do your laundry
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Leave all jewelry at home

What can I do to prepare for blood and bone marrow transplant?

  • Make sure your family knows where important financial and legal documents are kept. Write down a list of regular chores and household upkeep you do so that your family is prepared to take over those activities during your absence.
  • If you have children make sure there are plans for how they will be cared for while you are recovering and make plans for how and when they can visit you in the hospital. Keep them informed of plans and changes.
  • Provide a medical release granting a caregiver, family member or friend permission to authorize medical care for children in your absence.
  • Discuss with someone you trust the possibility of making them your Durable Health Care Power of Attorney.
  • Organize how your bills will be paid while you are away. Make sure your health insurance premiums are paid on time, even while you are hospitalized.
  • Leave a list of numbers that your family can call if they need help fixing things (plumbers, carpenters, etc.) so they do not have to rely on you while you are recovering.
  • Prepare your family and friends that your appearance and demeanor may change during and after treatment.
  • Family and friends will want to help. Let them know ahead of time what would be beneficial to you.

Why should I go to the dentist prior to blood/bone marrow transplant?


If you have not had a recent dental check-up, you should make an appointment with your local dentist. If you have low blood counts, make sure that your dentist knows. Ask your dentist to look for any possible sites of infection in your teeth and mouth. Unhealthy teeth and gum tissue can become a serious infection problem during transplant.


What impact does smoking have on stem cell transplants?


Many transplant complications are more severe in patients who smoke. This includes mouth sores and lung problems that can be life threatening. If you smoke, you must stop. Your transplant doctor and coordinator can help provide information and, in some cases, prescribe medicine to help.


Can blood and bone marrow transplants affect fertility?


Yes. Most, but not all, transplant conditioning regimens (chemotherapy and or total body irradiation) can cause the transplant patient to become infertile as a result of treatment. There may be options to consider if you wish to have children in the future. For men, sperm banking, a process which involves freezing and storing your sperm, is an option you might want to explore. For women, if there is enough time before treatment of your cancer is required, it may be possible to freeze either your eggs or embryos before you undergo your treatment. Make sure to tell your transplant coordinator or your doctor that you would like to explore these options as early as possible before transplant. He or she will be able to refer you to UW Health fertility specialists to further explain your options.


Is pregnancy an option during blood and bone marrow transplant?


No. You should not become pregnant or father a child at anytime during your treatment. The medicines used can be harmful to an unborn child. Talk to your doctor about birth control options.


How should I prepare my home for my return after my transplant?


It is important to have a clean home to return to after transplant because your body's ability to fight infection will be low for awhile after the transplant. 

  • Carpets and rugs should be carefully vacuumed. Only carpets with heavy soiling need to be shampooed.
  • Change filters in air conditioners and furnaces. Buying an air filter unit is not required.
  • All toilets, showers, counters, sinks, and tubs should be cleaned.
  • Rooms need to be free of mold and mildew. Don't remodel your home at this time as this activity can cause mold spores to be released into the air.
  • Remove fresh or dried flowers from your home.
  • House plants are allowed, but should be limited to one room in the house.
  • Have all visitors wash their hands and avoid contact with persons who are sick.
  • Use alcohol-based hand gel or soap and water after each contact with pets or pet cages.
  • Avoid contact with animal waste.

How can I obtain information about donating and/or storing an umbilical cord?


UW Heath does not have a cord blood bank or cord collection program. Please go to the National Marrow Donor Program for comprehensive information on umbilical cord blood donation and storage options.