Choosing a Transplant Center

Find information about transplant centers, and learn what questions to ask when choosing the center that's right for you.

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With nearly 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 provides high quality medical care.

You should begin by talking with your physician. Find out which transplant centers your doctor recommends, and why.

In the U.S. your choice of transplant centers may be limited by your insurance plan. Many insurers have developed a list of transplant centers that have a high quality program, 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 transplant program in the U.S. 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 directory includes the number and type of transplants the center has performed in each of the past five years.

Be The Match ® also maintains a list of U.S. transplant centers that includes information about survival rates for patients undergoing an allogeneic transplant (using donor cells).

The U.S. Health Resources Service Administration (HRSA), provides hisorical data on transplants performed in the U.S. by disease.

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. The Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) also maintains a list of international transplant centers.

Which transplant center is best for me?

When choosing a transplant center, there are some important things to consider:

  • Is the transplant center accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT)? This agency conducts rigorous inspections of transplant programs and certifies programs that offer high quality care.
  • Will your insurance cover your medical expenses at the transplant center you choose?
  • What is the experience of the transplant team in treating patients with your disease? Some centers specialize in treating patients with a particular disease.
  • What is the specific treatment plan the center will use for you - before, during and after transplant - and its side effects?
  • Does the transplant center have a long-term follow-up program to help you with medical issues that may come up months or years after transplant?
  • If the center is far from your home, how will your follow up care be coordinated with your local physicians?
  • What kind of emotional support services are available for you, your caregiver and your family?
  • What is the center's success rate with transplants for patients with your particular disease?

Success Rates at Transplant Centers

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 patient a transplant center accepts. A center 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.

Should I Get a Second Opinion when Choosing a Transplant Center?

When 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 a patient 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.

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Next Page: Pre-Transplant Tests