Graft Rejection after Stem Cell Transplant

Graft rejection occurs when the infection-fighting system of the patient recognizes the infused donor stem cells as being different and destroys them. High-dose chemotherapy destroys the patient’s bone marrow and it cannot regenerate on its own. Therefore, patients who experience graft rejection can become quite ill and, in some instances, die of complications from the treatment. To prevent graft rejection, the patient receives medications, chemotherapy, total body irradiation, and other antibody medications before the donor stem cell is infused. The chances of graft rejection are related to the match between the donor and recipient HLA antigens, the overall genetic relationship between donor and recipient, and the type of disease for which the transplantation is being performed.