Recovery and complications of stem cell transplants

During a transplant, we deliver stem cells through your central line. This is like having a blood transfusion or chemotherapy

Stem cell transplants are straightforward and the process only takes half an hour to four hours. We will watch you close during your stem cell infusion, and in the days following your transplant. We will also check your blood often to ensure: 

  • Your body has accepted the new stem cells  
  • The stem cells are doing their job in your bone marrow


You will receive a high dose in your therapies. As a result, infections are common after a stem cell transplant. Please alert your doctor or nurse at once should you have any of these symptoms of a fever: 

  • Feeling very hot 
  • Feeling very cold 
  • Are shivering

Find out more Stem Cell Transplants and Infection Prevention information for patients and visitors.

Other complications of stem cell transplants

People may experience certain conditions with high dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This could also happen after a transplant. We will take every precaution to prevent these conditions. Allogenic transplants have a slight risk that new stem cells will not ‘engraft.’ Engrafting means repopulating the bone marrow. We will watch you closely to ensure we detect and treat them quickly.  

We will discuss any complications of autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Alert your doctor or nurses at once if you experience any new symptoms. 

Find out more common side effects from treatment. 

Recovery from stem cell transplants

Recovery from stem cell transplant takes time. How long this takes depends on:  

  • Your disease 
  • Other treatments you received  
  • Any complications you may have experienced

Recovery takes: 

  • Three to six months for an Autologous Transplant 
  • 12 to 18 months (about one and a half years) for an Allogeneic Transplant

You will still need to return often after your treatment so that we can check: 

  • The progress of your transplant  
  • Your general well-being

When it's urgent for you to contact the hospital after stem cell transplants

If it is a medical emergency call 000. 

You may develop any of the following symptoms. If so, please contact us straight away on (03) 8559 5000 and ask for the registrar on call. 

  • A temperature over 38˚C or fever and chills (these might suggest an infection) 
  • Diarrhoea or stomach cramps 
  • Persistent vomiting or nausea 
  • Any abnormal bruising and bleeding - for example: 
    • Blood in your urine 
    • Blood in your bowel movements 
    • Bleeding gums  
    • Nose bleeds
  • Constipation: if you have not opened your bowels for more than two days 
  • Persistent cough or shortness of breath 
  • A persistent headache 
  • Unexplained and persistent soreness 
  • Pain, swelling, redness or pus around your central line 
  • A sudden decline in your health
  • Rash or itching

You may end up going to the emergency department. If so, ensure you let them know at once that you have had a stem cell transplant. Do not wait in the emergency queue. 



Pages related to stem cell transplants