Bone marrow is the soft spongy tissue inside your bones, which produces the blood cells. A bone marrow transplant is a process to replace damaged, faulty, or cancerous cells.
Who needs a bone marrow transplant? Usually, patients who are diagnosed with leukaemia, lymphoma, myelodysplasia, blood diseases, and specific kinds of immune deficiency diseases may be advised by the doctor, oncologist, or a haematologist to undergo a bone marrow transplant. The doctor after diagnosis will suggest ways to prevent bone marrow transplants with the use of alternative remedies. However, when there is no alternative source to rely on, a bone marrow transplant becomes a necessity
Difference between bone marrow and stem cell transplant – The terms bone marrow and stem cell are sometimes used to mean the same since the blood cells are borne out of the bone marrow. However, there is a difference in the method of donation in both. In the case of a bone marrow transplant, these stem cells are obtained from the bone marrow of the donor, under the effect of anaesthesia. A large needle is used to extract the bone marrow from the hipbones. In a stem cell transplant, a process known as apheresis harvests the stem cells from the blood of the donor. The donor is prescribed medicine for five days to increase the production of stem cells. This procedure is similar to a blood donation process.
Difference between allogeneic and autologous transplants – An allogeneic transplant needs stem cells from a donor having similar HLA tissue type like that of the patient. In an autologous transplant, the patient’s stem cells are taken and frozen. To reduce the chances of cancer cells being collected along with the stem cells, the patient is sometimes given anticancer drugs. In both these types, chemotherapy or radiation is given to the patient in high doses to destroy the cancerous cells. Finally, the thawed stem cells are given to the patient, where they will grow and turn into healthy blood cells over a period. The type, status, and stage of the disease that is being treated, the age and health of the patient, availability of the donor, ability to harvest the patients stem cells and treat determines what kind of transplant the patient will undergo. For older and weak people, less powerful chemotherapy and radiation would be a better option.
What is to be done after the transplant – A bone marrow transplant generally implies that the patient will remain in the hospital for several weeks. Chemotherapy and radiation bring along with its few complications and side effects. The doctor monitors the bone marrow transplant side effects. The recovery process is a very long one. After being discharged from the hospital, the patient needs to have follow-up appointments with the oncologist/doctor. To be able to have a smooth and quick recovery, the patient needs to follow the doctor’s advice rigorously.
A bone marrow transplant gives a new life to the patients.The bone marrow treatment in India has now become common.