Stem cell transplants

When you have a stem cell transplant, you have a greater chance of getting an infection

It’s really important to know how to avoid getting sick and prevent infections after stem cell transplants. This means, you and your visitors in hospital and at home need take precautions. Even after you leave the hospital, your body will still be weak for some time. This means, it’s important to practise good hygiene habits to stay healthy.  

When in hospital 

Hand washing 

DeBug hand sanitiser is in every room, in various places on the wards, and around the rest of the hospital. Visitors should always wash their hands with sanitiser. They should do so before and after entering your room. 

Both you and your visitors should make sure to always keep good hygiene. This is true all the time - not only when entering and leaving your room. A hand sanitiser is not a replacement for washing your hands with soap and water. 

Protective environments 

Patients will always have single rooms. This is true whether for:  

  • The haematology ward on Level 5 at our Melbourne campus 
  • The specialised ward at The Royal Melbourne Hospital  

You may be at risk of infection - what we also call 'neutropenic'. If so, we may instruct you to remain in your room to protect you from infection. You can still get out of bed and visitors and staff can still come in and out if they wash their hands. 


Friends and family may come to visit you when you are with us. They may have one of the following though:  

  • Cold or flu  
  • Cold- or flu-like symptoms  
  • An upset stomach   
  • Have been in contact with anyone who has an infectious disease such as measles or chickenpox

If so, kindly ask them to visit another time as they may pose a risk to you while you have a poor immune system. 

Please ask your treating team if you're unsure if a loved one can visit. They can still call the hospital on (03) 8559 5000. They can then ask us to transfer them to your ward so they can talk to you over the phone. 

Plants and flowers 

Flowers and plants are a potential infection risk. Unfortunately, you cannot keep them in your room after a stem cell transplant. We ask that your visitors do not bring flowers into the haematology ward, inpatient unit Level 5 (IPU L5). 

We understand that friends and family like to show their support. It is good to let them know to suggest they send or bring alternative gifts such as balloons or cards. 


There will be some precautions you should take with your food and cooking. You will need these precautions when in hospital and for some time after. You should cook food right, especially meat and fish. You should wash and cook fruits and vegetables. Thick-skinned fruits that you can peel are best. You should avoid some foods all together. These foods include salads, soft cheeses, and raw seafood.  

Make sure you let your visitors know what you can and cannot eat if they are bringing food in for you. Check with your nurses on the ward if you are unsure. 

Find out more about visitors at Peter Mac. 

After discharge home 

You can do several simple to lower your risk of infection after leaving the hospital: 

  • Regular hand washing 
  • Good personal hygiene including daily showers 
  • Good mouth care and oral hygiene 
  • Avoid contact with people who may have or have the symptoms of cold, flu and stomach bugs 
  • Avoid people who have met children with chicken pox, measles or other viruses 
  • Avoid children who have recently had a live vaccine 
  • Avoid garden soil and potting mix 
  • Washing your hands after touching pets and avoid letting them lick you 
  • You may have a Central Venous Access Device (CVAD) still in place when you return home. If so, follow the instructions to take care for it

When to contact the hospital with urgency after stem cell transplants

If it is a medical emergency call 000. 

You may experience any one of the following symptoms. If so, contact us with urgency and ask for the registrar on call, on (03) 8559 5000: 

  • A temperature over 38˚C or fever and chills (these might show an infection)
  • Diarrhoea or stomach cramps
  • Persistent vomiting or nausea
  • Any abnormal bruising and bleeding. Examples of this include blood in your urine, bowel movements. They also include bleeding gums or 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 puss around your central line
  • A sudden decline in your health
  • A rash or itching

Make sure you let the emergency department know at once that you have had a stem cell transplant. Do not wait in the emergency queue. 

More information about stem cell transplants 

We adapted this content from the Leukaemia Foundation's Guides for Patient and Families

Resources on stem cell transplants


Pages related to stem cell transplants