What Is Involved in A Bone Marrow Transplant

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A bone marrow transplant is a procedure to replace bone marrow that is unhealthy with healthy marrow. It is used mainly to treat patients with life threatening cancer of the blood (leukaemia), diseases that cause bone marrow failure (aplasticanaemia) and other genetic or immune system diseases.

Advanced medical research has enhanced the potential of bone marrow transplant to treat these conditions with high survival rate. For many conditions, bone marrow transplant is the only solution. In such cases,total cost of bone marrow transplant in India is not an issue.

What Is Bone Marrow?

Marrow is a type of tissue which is present inside bones. It produces cellsthat make blood or blood stem cells: immature cells which grow into WBC’s (White blood cells), Platelets and RBC’s (Red blood Cells). RBC’s carry oxygen in the body, WBC’s help immunity of the body and plateletsprevent bleeding.

What Happens in A Transplant?

A bone marrow transplant substitutes unhealthy cells with cells that are healthy. There happen to be two kinds of transplant: Autologous and Allogenic transplant. Blood stem cells are extracted from three sources:

  • Bone marrow
  • Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC)
  • Blood from umbilical cord at birth

Autologous Transplant:

  • Uses your own blood cells collected from your blood stream and stored.
  • Radiotherapy of high dose is used to destroy unhealthy bone marrow.
  • Autologous transfer of cells from your own body replaces the damaged cells.

Allogenic Transplant:

  • Uses healthy cells from an unrelated donor, a family member or the umbilical cord.
  • It treats blood cancer and provides the advantage of using the immune system of donor to fight cancer cells.
  • It can be used fortreating non-cancerous conditions like sickle cell anaemia.
  • Healthy cells of the donor are used to replace unhealthy cells in your bone marrow.

Bone marrow transplant is an arduous and long process but you will have the help of your medical team.

Preparation:

  • Prior to a transplant, chemotherapy will be administered. Radiotherapy may or may not be administered. This is the preparation regime conducted a few days before infusion of healthy stem cells.
  • In autologous transplant, chemotherapymay be intense but in case of allogenic transplant, the intensity varies from very mild to intense. Intensity dependson type of disease.
  • This treatment is done to ensure engrafting of new stem cells such that they settle in the marrow to create new blood cells.

Transplant Day:

On Day 0 (zero)or Transplant day, the infusion of replacement blood cells into your blood cells is carried out. These cells are carried via the blood stream and deposited in the bone marrow.

Engraftment:

Till your transplanted cells start creating new and healthy blood cells, your blood count of Platelets, RBC’s and WBC’s will be low. One has to wait for ten to twenty-one days for engrafting of PBSC cells and Marrow cells and around six weeks for cells transplanted from umbilical cord.

Engraftment happens when transplanted, donor cells start creating new blood cells. This will enhance your immune system. Your transplant medical team will monitor you for any complications. Early recovery or engraftment happens from 30 days to 100 days, the period in which you may have to stay in hospital.

The complete process from preparation to hospital stay may last from weeks to months and also several weeks of recuperation at home. One positive factor is low average cost of bone marrow transplant in India, which will ease your financial burden.