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A booklet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families

Book Four
Text & Illustrations by Simone Thomason
Cover artwork by Navada Currie

You can read this booklet below, or download it here.

Blood Cell Transplants: Autografts – Title
Blood Cell Transplants: Autografts

A booklet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families

Book Four

Text & Illustrations by Simone Thomason
Cover artwork by Navada Currie


The author sincerely acknowledges and pays respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and Traditional Owners, past, present and emerging, on whose land these booklets have been developed and gives thanks for their on-going willingness to share their knowledge and wisdom.


Blood Cell Transplants: Autografts, A Booklet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families, is book four in a series of five educational booklets. The booklets are primarily visual teaching tools, designed to meet the comprehension needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, diagnosed with a blood cancer, and their families. This resource may also benefit all patients, including cultural and linguistically diverse people groups whose main language is not English.

Disclaimer: This booklet is not intended to provide or be a replacement for medical advice. Text and illustrations © Simone Thomason, 2020. Cover artwork © Navada Currie, 2022. ISBN:978-0-6486980-0-5

Acknowledgements: The author would like to express sincere thanks to patients and families, co-workers, colleagues, friends and family whom have supported and provided encouragement throughout the compilation of these booklets. In particular those whom took time out of their busy schedules to review, critique and provide feedback on the booklets at various stages of their development, including: Dr Ferenc Szabo; Dr Akash Kalro; Dr Tina Noutsos; Hayley Williams; Barbara Smith; Robyn Jones; Barbara Cox; Cheryl Hooper; Mary Copp; Jean Murphy; Helen Kennon; Mally McLellan; Joyce Crombie; Tania Wakefield; Myrtle Weldon; Lesley Versteegh; and my husband, Martin Thomason.

The Leukaemia Foundation uses real-life stories to provide education, inspiration and hope. If you have an experience of blood cancer you’d like to share, please email [email protected]

4. Contents

6….What is a young blood cell transplant?

7….Where will you have the transplant?

11-16….What happens in a transplant?

19-20….When the transplant is finished – what’s next?

22….When can I have children?

24….Common questions

25 – 29….Abbreviations and references

5. The next treatment


The next treatment

The doctors, blood nurse, ILO and interpreter will sit with you and your family and talk about the next treatment, called a young blood cell transplant.

Your family back home can be on the TV link or phone.

Illustration of a group of people (a patient, family member, doctor, nurse, and others) sitting in a circle in a hospital meeting room
6. What is a young blood cell transplant?


What is a young blood cell transplant?

Some blood cancers are hard to get rid of with just chemo. So, you will need a young blood cell transplant also called a stem cell transplant.

The word transplant means to swap one thing with another. This transplant means your blood is collected then given back to you, after chemo to help you get well.

Illustration of a young man with a PICC line, giving him chemo medicine
7. Where will you have the transplant?


Where will you have the transplant?

This transplant may not be able to be given to you in the hospital where you are.

Hospitals in the large cities do the transplants. They have more people there to help.

Transplants can take weeks to months to do.

You and a family member will leave country and travel to the transplant hospital. When you get there, you will stay in a hostel near the hospital.

Illustration of a map of Australia, with an airplane flying through the middle
8. Your transplant team


Your transplant team

You will meet another hospital team called the “transplant” team, they will be expecting you

They will explain what will happen to you and your family.

You will talk to these doctors and nurses over the TV link before you travel for the transplant.

There will be church ministers, language speakers – Interpreters and ILOs to help you there too.

Illustration of a transplant team - showing people like doctors, blood nurses, physio, social workers, and Indigenous Liaison Officers
9. What next?


What next?

In the transplant hospital you will have more scans and tests before the transplant starts.

After everything has been told to you, you will need to sign a consent form for the transplant.

You will have more chemo and get a special tube inserted into your chest for this chemo.

You may have chemo in the day unit or in the hospital room, the transplant nurse will tell you where.

Four images: the first, a patient is in a dentist chair. In the second, a patient is about to go into a CT scan machine. The third image is someone signing a consent form, and the last picture is a patient with a PICC line and chemo bag drip beside him.
10. Using your young blood cells


Using your young blood cells

The young blood cells that live inside your large bones are special cells called stem cells which can grow to be any blood cell your body needs.

These young blood cells don’t have the cancer in them.

Illustration of a young man with his skeleton visible. A magnifying glass shows what the inside of his bone looks like.
11. Collecting the young blood cells


Collecting the young blood cells

You will need to have special medicine through a needle given under the skin every day for a few days.

You can give yourself the needles or the nurse can do it for you.

This medicine works on your bones and moves the young blood cells from your bones into your blood.

This medicine can make your bones a bit achy. The nurses will give you pain relief tablets for the ache.

Illustration of a young man holding a needle near his leg.
12. Young blood cells


Young blood cells

This picture shows the inside of your body, where the young blood cells are moving out of your hip bones and into your blood in your veins.

You will have blood tests every day, to see when you have enough young blood cells in your blood.

Illustration of the inside of a body, showing where young blood cells are moving out of hip bones and into the blood in veins.
13. A special machine


A special machine

When you have enough young/stem cells in your blood you go onto a machine, like the one in this picture. Your family member can be with you when you are on the machine.

Being on the machine does not hurt you. This machine spins your blood and separates a small amount of your young blood cells into a bag.

You will need to be attached to the machine for a few hours over 1-3 days.

A tube may be put in your neck to help collect your cells.

Illustration of a patient sitting in a chair, hooked up to a special machine that spins blood and separates blood cells out.
14. Chemo



After the machine you have a few days rest, before having chemo in the day unit.

Then you go into hospital and your bag of young blood cells (stem cells) will be given back to you.

You will be in a special room to protect you from germs.

Your family won’t be able to stay in hospital with you, but they can visit every day. You will be in hospital for weeks, to heal from the chemo.

The chemo can make you feel tired, you may have mouth sores, vomit, or get running poos. The nurses will give you medicines to help you get better.

Illustration of a young man in a hospital bed, with a bag of chemo medicine beside him on a drip. A nurse and family member are nearby.
15. A special tube


A special tube

Before the chemo and stem cells are given to you, a special tube (Hickman catheter) will need to be inserted into a vein in your chest.

You will have medicine to numb the area before the tube is put in.

Illustration of a young man with a PICC line, giving him chemo medicine
16. What your young blood cells do


What your young blood cells do

Day 0 is the day you get your stem cells given back to you.

Day 1 onwards is the time the young blood cells move from your blood back into your bones.

When the stem cells are in your bones, they grow older and go to work.

Illustration of how young blood cells move around your body after a stem cell transplant, over a period of 30 days.
17. Working young blood cells


Working young blood cells

It will take a month or more for your cells to start working.

You will stay in hospital until you have enough working cells.

You will need to have bags of blood to keep you strong while you wait for your young blood cells to work.

Illustration of the inside of a body, showing where young blood cells are moving out of hip bones and into the blood in veins, with the words 'Day +30' above it.
18. Staying well


Staying well

You will need to do all the same things you did when you first had chemo.

Six different pictures that show what you need to do to stay well during treatment: like washing hands, keeping teeth clean, drinking water, and exercising.
19. Staying strong


Staying strong

Having a transplant can be a long treatment.

If you have worries, talk to the nurses caring for you, they can get the Church Minister, Interpreter, or ILO, to come see you.

Illustration of a series of three images: the first one is a young man sitting in a hospital room looking lonely. The second is a group of health workers. The third is a young man hooked up to a bag of chemo medicine.
20. When you are almost healed


When you are almost healed

You will have a blood test every day to see how you are healing.

When you have enough working blood cells, you leave hospital and go to the hostel nearby.

You will travel in from the hostel to the hospital a few times a week to see the transplant team and have a blood test.

When your blood is fully healed and strong you will return back home to country.

Illustration of a scientist looking through a microscope, with pictures of what platelets, red cells, and white cells look like beside him.
21. When you are back home


When you are back home

Back home you will need to have check-ups and blood tests with your doctor in the community.

You will also need to leave country to see your blood doctor back at the city hospital for check-ups.

Having the transplant will change your immune system. You will have to start your vaccination needles again. These are the needles you had when you were a baby and child, which stop you getting sicknesses such as measles and mumps.

Your doctor in the community can give these to you.

Illustration of a young man walking to a health clinical in his community.
22. When can I have children?


When can I have children?

For two years after the transplant, it is best not to try and have children. The chemo you had will cause the baby to get sick and not form well inside the mother.

When having sex, to stop getting pregnant you or your partner need to use a condom.

After two years and if you are ready to have children, you may have sperm or eggs saved at the fertility doctors, which you can use to have children with your partner.

You can talk to your doctor about this.

Illustration of a condom packet
End of book four


End of Book Four

We hope this booklet has helped you and your family learn about young blood cell transplants (stem cell transplants).

Common questions


Common questions

7….Why do I have to go away for the transplant?

7….How long will I need to be away from home?

14-17….How will I feel during the transplant?

20-21….What happens after the transplant?

22….When can I have children?

25. Abbreviations and references – part 1


Abbreviations and references

Autograft Transplant – your own young blood stem cells are collected and given to you after strong chemo.

Blood Nurse (Cancer Care Coordinator) – a member of the team who works with patients with blood changes and their families.

Dietitian – a member of the team who specialises in the right food for you to keep you well and strong.

Feeling Crook – feeling nauseated, vomiting, or having an upset stomach or pain.

Finishing Up – dying or passing away.

Abbreviations and references (part 2)


Abbreviations and references (continued)

Germs – infection causing pathogens: bacteria; viruses; fungus.

Haematologist – Specialist blood doctor.

Hickman Line/Tube – a central line inserted into the large vein in a patient’s chest to enable fluids to be given and blood samples taken.

ILO/Indigenous Liaison Officers – are staff members who support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and families.

Leukaemia – blood cancer of the white blood cells.

Abbreviations and references – part 3


Abbreviations and references (continued)

Lymph System – a network of tubes and glands in your body, which holds certain types of white cells. These tubes carry excess fluid from the blood and the white cells clean the fluid and fight infection.

Lymphoma – cancer of a white cell usually found in the lymph system.

Myeloma – a cancer of plasma cells which is a type of white blood cell.

OT/Occupational Therapist – who help with equipment for home and hospital.

Pharmacist – a member of the team who specialises in medicines and drugs.

Abbreviations and references – part 4


Abbreviations and references (continued)

PICC Line/Tube – (a peripherally inserted central catheter) or special tubes inserted into the upper arm. Fluids and medicines can go into these tubes and blood samples can be taken from them without using needles.

Stem Cell Transplant – also known as a young blood cell transplant.

Sorry Business – A funeral or a time for grieving and remembering people who have died.

Special Business – are times of significance to strengthen peoples connection to the physical and spirit world.

Abbreviations and references – part 5


Abbreviations and references (continued)

Special Blood Machine/Apheresis Machine – a blood cell separator, used to collect stem or young cells, before a transplant.

Transplant – means to move something from one place to another place.

Vaccinations – activate and protect the immune system to fight against certain diseases.

Young Blood Cell Transplant – young blood cells or stem cells are collected and given to a patient after strong chemo.

Cancer Institute of NSW (2020) Retrieved from

Leukaemia Foundation (2020) Retrieved from

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Last updated on May 23rd, 2023

Developed by the Leukaemia Foundation in consultation with people living with a blood cancer, Leukaemia Foundation support staff, haematology nursing staff and/or Australian clinical haematologists. This content is provided for information purposes only and we urge you to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis, treatment and answers to your medical questions, including the suitability of a particular therapy, service, product or treatment in your circumstances. The Leukaemia Foundation shall not bear any liability for any person relying on the materials contained on this website.