Bone Marrow Transplant

Bone marrow transplant is a procedure to replace the bone marrow that is disrupted by disease, infection, or high dosages of medication or chemotherapy. Bone marrow makes young blood-forming cells called hematopoietic stem cells, which in turn develops into white cells or red cells or platelets. White blood cells fight against infection, red blood cells carries oxygen to other cells, and platelets help the blood to clot.

A bone marrow transplant is also called as stem cell transplant, you may require this transplant if your bone marrow stops working and does not produce enough healthy blood cells. For transplantation, your doctor may use cells from your own body, known as an autologous transplant, or from a donor known as an allogeneic transplant. This procedure helps to make enough white blood cells, red blood cells and platelet cells that can avoid any infections, bleeding or anemia.

The doctor will collect and store hematopoietic stem cells before the start of chemotherapy or radiation treatment. These cells are used in transplantation.

Why transplant is done?

  • It is done to replace or rescue the bone marrow damage by safely allowing the high doses of
    treatment of chemotherapy or any other radiation therapy.
  • The transplant can replace the diseased or infected marrow with new stem cells.
  • It can provide new stem cells that can help in destroying the cancer cells.
  • The transplant can also help people with malignant and benign diseases like Acute leukemia,
    Adrenoleukodystrophy, Aplastic anemia, Bone marrow failure syndromes, Chronic leukemia,
    Hemoglobinopathies, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Immune deficiencies.
  • The transplant may help in treating congenital neutropenia which is an inherited disorder that causes repeated infections.

Complications associated with bone marrow transplant:

The short term risk you may experience after the procedure could be Low blood pressure, headache, nausea, and pain, shortness of breath, chills, and fever.

Some face serious complications that may require hospitalization and it may be life- threatening also.
They include

  • Graft-versus-host disease (allogeneic transplant only)
  • Stem cell (graft) failure
  • Organ damage
  • Infections
  • Cataracts
  • Infertility, early menopause
  • New cancers
  • Death
  • Bleeding in some parts of the body like lungs and brain
  • There could be vital organ damage

You should speak to your doctor regarding your problems and together you can weigh the risks and benefits to decide whether the transplant is right for you or not.

Types of bone marrow transplant and different names for transplants:

There are two types of bone marrow transplants 1) Autologous transplants 2) allogeneic transplants.
The different names for the transplant are

Bone marrow transplant (BMT) — which uses stems cells collected from bone marrow Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) transplant — it uses stem cells taken from blood circulating around the body.

Cord blood transplant — which uses stem cells collected from umbilical cord blood donated by a
mother right after her delivery.
Blood or marrow transplant or stem cell transplant — these are general terms for a
transplant of blood-forming stem cells (whether they come from marrow, circulating blood or cord blood)
Hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT)

The Procedure of bone marrow transplant:

There will be a series of tests to check your health condition; the evaluation may take a few days.

The transplantation procedure is similar to a blood transfusion. This procedure is painless.

If a transplant is done through an autologous transplant, you will undergo a procedure called apheresis to collect blood stem cells. During apheresis, blood is taken out from a vein and circulated through a machine, where it separates the blood into different parts. The stem cells are collected and frozen for later use for transplant and the remaining blood is sent back into your body.

In allogeneic transplant – the stem cells can be collected from the donor’s blood or bone marrow. Your doctor will be deciding whatever is suitable for your condition. Another type of allogeneic transplant is from the umbilical cord. Mothers after their babies can donate this. The blood from these cords is frozen and stored in the cord bank and used for a bone marrow transplant.