The Neely Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit

Bone marrow transplantation is one of the most intense and potentially risky medical procedures that a child with cancer will experience. For a young patient undergoing a bone marrow transplant, it is likely to be his or her final chance for a cure. Adding to the intensity of the procedure itself is the fact that a bone marrow transplant can be for the child a very lonely and physically and emotionally painful experience. Due to the suppression of his or her immune system, the patient needs to be isolated from the germs that others, including caregivers and family members, may bring into the transplant unit. In traditional bone marrow transplant units, a patient’s contact with others must be kept to a minimum; even a parent must put on protective clothing before seeing his or her child.

The Neely Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center is the first pediatric bone marrow transplant unit in Boston that breaks down these barriers to human contact, contact that all children, and most especially children undergoing a bone marrow transplant, so desperately need. The Floating Hospital's Cancer Center sees thousands of children with cancer each year, many of whom require a bone marrow transplant as their life-saving therapy.

Through the design of an environment that is germ-free (through a complex air filtration system), the new unit allows young patients and their families to live together during transplant in a setting that is both home-like and medically state-of-the-art. This transplant “home-away-from-home” includes, right within the unit, a family house (modeled after the Neely House at Tufts Medical Center) where parents can live throughout the entire transplant experience in private apartments and common areas that include a kitchen, livingroom and laundry facilities. If a parent needs to sleep right in the room with the child, there is a comfortable pull down bed next to the child’s bed.