Hematological diseases may be treated with medicines or stem cell transplantation. The stem cells are cells produced by the bone marrow. All blood cells develop from the stem cells. A stem cell transplantation is a procedure by which stem cells collected from the circulating blood or from the bone marrow are given by infusion to the patient.
Stem cells may be collected from
- the patient him/herself – this is called an autologous stem cells transplantation.
- a family member or an unknown, suitable, registered volunteer donor – this is called an allogeneic stem cell transplantation.
At our unit we perform allogeneic as well as autologous stem cell transplantations.
Experience and Quality matters
We were the first in Finland, in 1991, to perform a stem cell transplantation with peripheral blood stem cells. For this, we had refined the technique of collecting peripheral blood stem cells by apheresis (stem cell apheresis). Our center was also the first in Finland to perform haploidentical stem cell transplantation, in which a healthy first-degree relative – a parent, sibling, child or even close relative– can serve as a donor. Actually, we perform the largest number in Finland of haploidentical stem cell transplantations.
We perform more than 100 stem cell transplantations each year. At European level we are categorized as medium-sized transplant center.
We have, since 2006, maintained an international accreditation status of quality standards JACIE/EBMT; this, in itself, proves the high standards of work done at our stem cell transplantation unit.
Our unit has been appointed as
"Center of Excellence" by The Hospital District of Southwest Finland.
Our personnel working under the leadership of the Director of the Stem Cell Transplantation program is a highly experienced team of experts who have worked in this field for many years. We present our personnel on the webpage of Hematology section.
The Director of the Stem Cell Transplantation program is Prof. Maija Itälä-Remes, chief physician.
Allogeneic stem cell transplantations
The stem cell transplantation unit at the Tyks University Hospital is one of the two national stem cell transplantation units in Finland where complicated allogeneic stem cell transplantations are carried out with stem cells collected from healthy, unrelated donors to manage patients with difficult-to-treat haematological conditions.
The donor can be
- HLA-identical sibling. This is always a primary choice.
- haploidentical donor. Donation practices have recently been modified and instead of HLA-identical match, donors for a haploidentical transplant need be only a 50 percent match to the recipient. This means that now it is possible for first-degree relatives, under specified conditions, to donate stem cells. Thus, a parent may donate to a child and vice versa. Haplo donor can also be from extended family members such as aunts, uncles or even cousins. These transplantations are called haploidentical haematopoietic stem cell transplantations.
- voluntary unrelated HLA-identical donor. A suitable donor will usually be identified through searches in international stem cell donor registers. These registers have a database of some 30 million voluntary donors. Through a computer search of this database it is possible to identify a suitable stem cell donor. In Finland, the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service maintains a stem cell registry of some 40,000 donors.
Allogeneic stem cell transplantations are usually used to treat acute leukemias and
myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).
Patients from all of Finland are referred to us for allogeneic stem cell transplantation. If the treatment is carried out in some other language than Finnish, Swedish or English, interpretation services are available at a fee.
Autologous stem cell transplantations
In an autologous transplant, patient's own blood-forming stem cells are collected. Patient is then treated with high doses of chemotherapy. The high-dose treatment kills the cancer cells, but it also gets rid of the blood-producing cells that are left in the bone marrow. Afterward, the collected stem cells are put back into patient's bloodstream, allowing the bone marrow to produce new blood cells.
Autologous stem cell transplantations are usually performed to treat myeloma and lymphoma.
All autologous stem cell transplantations within the area of special responsibility of the Turku University Hospital are performed at our stem cell transplantation unit.
Stem cell transplantation unit is located in the T-Hospital, D wing, 7th floor, in conjunction with
the hematology ward.
The patient rooms of the ward are of the highest standard: There are 10 single rooms and 4 rooms for two patients each.
All patient rooms have large, bright windows and are equipped with a refrigerator, television, wireless web and a nurse-call system. Each room has toilet and shower facilities.
Stem cell transplantation and treatments put a significant strain on the human body and this results in reduced immunity to diseases for a long time. Patients who have received an allogeneic stem cell transplant will always get at our ward a comfortable single room which can be used as isolation room if needed. The purpose of the isolation is to protect the patient form external contagious disease.
Isolation does not limit the visiting hours. Relatives and guests of the patients in the single room have free visiting hours at our ward. Visits are prohibited only if the visitors have any contagious disease including the cold and the flu.
People in charge
Director of the stem cell transplantation program Prof. Maija Itälä-Remes, tel 02 313 0016.
Head nurse Johanna Karukivi, tel. 02 313 2015.