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Discharge Instructions for Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplant

Bone marrow transplant is a procedure used to treat many diseases — for example, blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, solid tumors such as testicular cancer, blood diseases such as aplastic anemia, and immune and genetic diseases.

After bone marrow transplant, your risk of infection is greater because your immune system is weak for up to 6 months after the transplant. Protect yourself from infection by following the guidelines and precautions on this sheet.


  • Increase your activity gradually.

  • Begin light exercise such as walking.

  • Get plenty of rest and take breaks between activities.

  • Check with your health care provider before driving a car.

  • Don’t swim until the central venous catheters have been removed.

  • Ask your health care provider when you can expect to return to work or school.

  • Avoid riding bicycles or motorcycles until your health care provider says it is OK. 

Skin care

  • Take care of your skin:

    • Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom.

    • Wash your hands before and after caring for your central venous catheter, if you have one.

    • Use an electric razor for shaving.

  • Protect your skin from the sun:

    • Use hypoallergenic sunscreen with SPF of 15 or greater.

    • Avoid direct sun exposure on your skin.

    • Cover your head with a wig, scarf, or cap when you are outside.

Limit exposure to bacteria

  • Check with your health care provider before having intimate contact with anyone.

  • Wear a mask when you walk through the hospital.

  • Ask your health care provider before using certain cosmetics, contact lenses, tampons, and douches.

  • Avoid public places such as shopping malls, especially during holidays and big sales events, until your immune system has recovered. 

  • Avoid contact with anyone who has a cold, the flu, or another contagious condition (like measles, chicken pox, herpes, viruses, pinkeye, coughs, sore throats).

  • Limit visits with young children. They frequently have colds or the flu.

  • Follow a low-bacteria diet. Ask your health care provider for more information about this diet.

  • Ask your health care provider about contact with pets or animals. Use good hand-washing and cleaning methods when coming in contact with any animal.

    • Wash your hands immediately after animal contact.

    • Avoid contact with pet urine or feces.

    • Don’t clean litter boxes, cages, or aquariums.

  • Keep your home clean.

    • Clean floors, carpets, furniture, and countertops regularly.

    • Be sure your bathroom is clean.

    • Wash your hands after handling trash.

Limit exposure to other substances

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.

  • Don’t do yard work such as gardening, mowing the lawn, or raking leaves. Don’t handle cut flowers or potted plants until your health care provider says it is OK.

  • Don’t work on cars or machinery.

  • Wear a mask when you are near construction areas, windy places, or any area with dust or fumes.

  • Avoid chemicals and fumes such as gasoline, fuel oil, paints, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

  • Don’t use portable humidifiers or vaporizers.


  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed by your health care provider. It is very important that you follow your health care provider's instructions carefully, and always take your medications.

  • Don’t take any over-the-counter medications, supplements, or herbal remedies unless you have discussed it with your health care provider first.

  • Tell your health care provider about any side effects.


Make a follow-up appointment.

When to call your health care provider

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Any bleeding

  • Vomiting, with or without blood

  • Fever above 100.5°F (38°C) or shaking chills

  • Shortness of breath

  • Severe headache or confusion

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Black or tarry stools

  • Diarrhea that does not go away after 2 loose stools

  • Pain or cramping in the belly

  • Any chest pain


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