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Bone Marrow Transplant – For Beginners

Bone marrow transplant is a major procedure that is done to cure various types of cancers, predominantly blood cancer. It requires a donor whose bone marrow has to match the recipient. It is a complicated procedure that has over the years proven to be a successful and safe option.

What is Bone Marrow?
Bone marrow is a spongy tissue found in the centre of long and flat bone where hematopoiesis takes place.

What is Stem Cell?
Stem cells are special cells produced by bone marrow that can turn into different types of blood cells.

What is Bone Marrow or Stem cell Transplantation?
Procedure to replace damaged blood cells with healthy cell is called bone marrow or stem cell transplantation.

What are the types of Stem Cell Transplantation?
There are mainly two types of stem cell transplantation (SCT) –

  • Autologus Stem Cell Transplant (SCT)-

When stem cells are taken from patients (self), this type of transplant is called autologus SCT. For diseases like multiple myeloma and lymphoma this type of transplant is being done.

  • Allogenic SCT-

When  healthy stem cells from the blood or bone marrow of one person – ideally a close family member with the same or similar tissue type– are transferred to another person (patient), this is called an allogeneic transplant.

Bone Marrow Transplant treatment

What are stages of Stem Cell Transplantation?
A stem cell transplant has five main stages. These are:

  • Tests and examinations – to assess your general level of health.
  • Harvesting – the process of obtaining the stem cells to be used in the transplant, either from patient or a donor
  • Conditioning – treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to prepare your body for the transplant.
  • Transplanting the stem cells
  • Recovery

For how many days my patient will have to stay in hospital?
Patients usually need to stay in hospital for a month or more until the transplant starts to take effect and it can take a year or two to fully recover.