Choosing a Transplant Center
With more than 200 transplants centers in the U.S. alone, finding the one that best suits your needs may seem like an overwhelming task. Fortunately, most patients can choose between several excellent transplant programs, each of which will provide high quality medical care.
You should begin by talking with your physician. Find out which transplant centers he or she recommmends, and why.
Your choice of transplant centers may be limited by your insurance plan. Many insurers have developed a list of transplant centers that have high quality programs, and require patients to choose from this list.
Transplant Center Directories
BMT InfoNet has developed a transplant center directory to help you search for a hospital that's right for you. From the directory, you will be able to locate transplant centers by name, state, disease and type of transplant performed.
The Be the Match (formerly the National Marrow Donor Program) maintains a list of U.S. transplant centers that do transplants with unrelated donors. If this is the type of transplant you will have, this resource provides information that you may find helpful. The NMDP directory include information about the number of unrelated donor transplants performed at a center, as well outcomes data.
If you are searching for a transplant center outside of the United States, Be the Match maintains a list of international transplant centers, with whom it is affiliated, that perform unrelated donor transplants.
The U.S. Health Resources Service Administration (HRSA) offers disease-specific data on transplants performed at each transplant center. A second directory provides information on the total number of transplants done in the U.S for a particular disease. Transplant centers are only required to report data to HRSA on transplants performed with donor marrow, stem cells or cord blood. However, some also provide data on autologous transplants - transplants that use the patient's own marrow or stem cells.
Which center is best for me?
When deciding upon a transplant center, there are some important things to consider including:
- Whether the program is accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT). This agency conducts rigorous inspections of transplant programs and certifies a program if it offers high quality care.
- Whether your insurance will cover your medical expenses at this particular transplant center
- The experience of the transplant team in treating patients with your disease
- The specific protocol or treatment plan the center will use for you, and its side effects
- Whether the transplant program has a long-term follow-up program to help you with medical issues that may come up months or years after transplant
- Emotional support services for you, your donor, your caregiver and your family
- The center's success rate with blood stem cell transplants
Be careful when discussing success rates with transplant centers, or comparing one center’s success rate to another. Success is measured in many different ways and does not always refer to the number of people cured.
For example, one transplant program may define success as the number of people alive one year after transplant. Another may define success as the number of people alive and disease free one year after transplant. A third might define it as the number of people alive three or more years after transplant.
Success rates are also affected by the type of patients a transplant program accepts. A program that accepts sicker or higher risk patients for transplant will likely report lower success rates than a center that accepts only prime candidates for transplant.
Whenever possible, visit the transplant centers you are considering and meet with the staff who will care for you, including nurses, doctors and social workers. Don’t be afraid to get an opinion about the best treatment plan for you from more than one transplant center, and don’t be surprised if they don’t all agree. Along with your doctor, weigh the risks and benefits of each treatment plan before choosing the center that’s right for you.
If you'd like to talk with patients who had a transplant at a particular medical center, ask the staff for some names and phone numbers. Most transplant centers will be happy to provide that information.
You can also use BMT InfoNet's Caring Connections Program to find a person who was transplanted at a particular center and is available to talk with new patients.