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If you are planning to donate blood and bone marrow, you've agreed to allow doctors to draw blood stem cells from your blood or bone marrow for transplantation. Blood stem cells are the cells that make all of the body's blood cells. They form and mature in the bone marrow, and are then released into the bloodstream. Although they're called "stem cells," these cells aren't the same as the embryonic stem cells studied in therapeutic cloning and other types of research.

In the past, surgery to draw marrow from the bone was the only way to collect blood stem cells. Today, however, it's more common to collect blood stem cells directly from the blood. This is called peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation.

Blood stem cells can also be collected from umbilical cord blood at birth. However, only a small amount of blood can be retrieved from the umbilical cord, so this type of transplant is generally reserved for children and small adults.

A stem cell transplant — also called a blood or marrow transplant — is the injection or infusion of healthy stem cells into your body to replace damaged or diseased stem cells.

A stem cell transplant may be necessary if your bone marrow stops working and doesn't produce enough healthy stem cells.

This procedure also may be performed if high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy is given in the treatment of blood disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma or sickle cell anemia.

A stem cell transplant can help your body make enough healthy white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets, and reduce your risk of life-threatening infections, anemia and bleeding.

Although the procedure to replenish your body's supply of healthy blood-forming cells is generally called a stem cell transplant, it's also known as a bone marrow transplant, peripheral blood stem cell transplant or an umbilical cord blood transplant, depending on the source of the stem cells.

Stem cell transplants can use cells from your own body (autologous stem cell transplant), from a donor (allogeneic stem cell transplant) or from an identical twin (syngeneic transplant).