Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (Bone Marrow Transplant)
Bone marrow is a procedure performed to replace damaged or diseased bone marrow with healthy blood-forming stem cells. The bone marrow procedure is also referred to as a stem cell transplant.
Basically, bone marrow is a soft, spongy tissue found in your bones. It is responsible for producing stem blood cells which further give rise to blood cells including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
A person may be required to undergo a bone marrow transplant in India if he/she suffers from any of the health complications mentioned below:
- Bone marrow diseases such as aplastic anemia.
- Blood cancers including leukemia or lymphoma.
- Other immune deficiencies and genetic disorders like sickle cell disease.
Types of Bone Marrow Transplant
Depending upon the donor, a bone marrow transplant procedure is categorized into three main types:
- Autologous bone marrow transplant: If the transplant is done using your own stem cells then it is defined as an autologous bone marrow transplant.
- Allogeneic bone marrow transplant: If the transplant is done using the bone cells from a donor based on his/her genetic match then it is defined as an Allogeneic bone marrow transplant.
- Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: This kind of transplantation involves the intravenous infusion of autologous or allogeneic stem cells for treating hematopoietic function in patients.
Here is the basic procedure followed by the specialists and Doctors at the top bone marrow transplant hospitals in India:
bone marrow transplant (BMT) units at Shree Guru Heart Clinic have completed more than 950 Stem cell transplants with most of them being allogeneic stem cell transplants including HLA matched siblings, matched unrelated, cord blood as well as Haplo-Identical transplants.
The stem cells in your healthy bone marrow are responsible for producing blood cells, especially leukocytes or white blood cells (WBCs) that are essential for the immune system. Blood cancers and associated treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation treatments deplete your bone marrow. Stem cell transplants help in regenerating new cells from the old cells to help your body create more cancer-free cells. The stem cells can be collected either from your own bloodstream or from that of a donor.
Here’s how the transplant process looks:
Before the transplant:
- Before the blood is drawn out, you or your donor will be injected with medicines to transfer blood-forming stem cells from your bone marrow to your bloodstream.
- The stem cells from you or your donor’s blood will be collected, separated from the bloodstream, and kept in a frozen state.
- You go through a conditioning treatment that involves high or low-dose chemotherapy or radiation to kill the cancer cells and your own stem cells so as to replace them with new stem cells.
During the transplant:
- The infusion procedure begins with you sitting in a chair and the infusion passing through a surgical line attached to your neck.
- You will be monitored for any fall in temperature or blood pressure and developing a fever.
- You may experience some side effects such as headache, nausea, and shortness of breath.
After the transplant:
- After the transplant is complete, your stem cells will start grafting to the bone marrow in a period of two to four weeks. Next, they will also start producing white blood cells, platelets, and red blood cells.
- In case the stem cells are from a donor, you will need to take antibiotics and anti-rejection medicines to help your body accept the transfused cells. You may also need transfused red blood cells, platelets, and nutrition.
- You may need to stay in a hospital for a month until your immune system starts functioning. It’s important to stay in a germ-free environment.
- You will need to visit the outpatient section so that the doctors can check your blood and bone marrow for any complications.
Care and support
After a bone marrow transplant, the doctors and nurses will keep a close eye on how the patients are recovering. Patients may require:
- Blood transfusions to elevate the blood cell counts
- Drugs to lower immunity system and help prevent GVHD
- Meds to help with side effects, if any
- Lab tests
- Medicine to fight infections
You may find that your emotions are all over the place ????. But understand that it is normal and will go away as you recover. Talk to your doctor, friends, and family and get support from the people who have recovered from this procedure