Having a donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) means you'll be getting more cells from your original donor. The aim is to strengthen the donor cells and push your chimerism levels up towards 100%.
If there were lymphocytes (white blood cells) left over from your transplant, they will have been stored, so they can be used at a later date. If there were no donor cells left after your transplant, the donor will be contacted to ask if they are willing to donate again.
Donors are usually very committed once they’ve made a donation – it’s extremely unusual that they would say no or be unable to donate. And collecting lymphocytes for DLI is normally easier for the donor than when they first donated.
Once the cells are collected, they can be given to you in the outpatients department through a cannula (a thin tube inserted into your vein) or your central line if you still have one. You’re unlikely to need any chemotherapy or other drugs if the DLI is being given for mixed chimerism. The main risk or side effect linked with DLI is that you might develop graft versus host disease (GvHD).
Your doctor will talk to you about the risks in your case. To lower the chances of GvHD, a very small number of cells are usually given in each DLI dose. If a single dose of cells does not improve the proportion of donor cells, further doses can be given.
It’s quite common for people to need a donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) after a transplant if they have mixed chimerism. But DLI is also used in a different way if your original condition has come back or if you have had graft failure or rejection.
Find out more about treatment and support options if your transplant hasn’t worked.