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Cell count

Hi my husband had his transplant on 23/11/17. He has been doing ok just a week of stage 2 GVHD but now recovered. After his clinic appointment today he was told that they are really pleased with his progress and they had done an analysis of his cells and his donor cells. They have told him that his cells are now 100% his donor. Because I could not be with him today I am not sure what this means (he doesn't ask questions like I would). It all sounds really positive but could anybody on here clarify please.

Many thanks


  • Hi Pam,

    That sounds like really good progress. The 100% donor is something that is referred to as ‘chimerism’ and it’s basically a measure of how much the transplanted cells have replaced your husbands existing cells. If you have a 100% chimerism it means the transplant has had a full effect and your husbands immune system has been completely replaced by that of the donor. It’s a very good sign!

    From a patients perspective it’s kind of reassuring to think that the old stem cells that our bodies created and caused the problems that lead to our cancers, have basically been cleaned out and replaced. I often think of a stem cell transplant as being very similar to upgrading a computer by wiping off the old operating system and installing a new one that takes over the running of the programmes.

    Around our bodies there are also existing cells that don’t get replaced by the transplant, but the new stem cells have subtle differences which react against these old cells and this reaction is called GvHD. In the computer scenario this is equivalent to old software has which difficulty working with the new operating software and needs some reprogramming so that they can work together.

    I hope that makes sense and helps. Your hubby is still in the early days at 5-6 weeks post transplant but to have 100% chimerism by now seems very encouraging. Hopefully his blood counts are improving at the same time and he’s starting to feel a bit better and getting a little strength back.

    There’s still a long way to go but it sounds like he’s heading in the right direction.

    Please keep us updated and in the meantime I wish you all the best.

  • Hi Pam

    Steve has covered this really well and all I want to add is that it is still early and its normal for the chimerism to fluctuate slightly. Its excellent that his chimerism is 100% but if this dips to say 95% over the next few months that is normal and ok and don't worry about it, it can still come back up again.

    I hope your husband continues to do well, keep us updated.

  • Thanks Steve and Hayley for your comments. It is good to get clarification on this as y husband was quite giddy on receiving this news. I know it's baby steps at the moment but he has felt so uplifted since his appointment. It is really good to see him this way. Will post again on any developments. Thanks
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