What is Bone Marrow and Bone Marrow Transplant?

Bone Marrow is a thick, spongy and fatty tissue present inside most of the human bones that include thigh and hip bones as well. Bone Marrow is present in human Red Blood Cells, White Blood Cells and Platelets. A bone which is somehow destroyed by any injury, infection or chemotherapy is replaced by the surgery called Bone Marrow Transplant.

In BMT, blood stem cells are surgically transplanted in – the bloodstream. These blood stem cells transport to the damaged bone marrow. There, new bone marrow is generated by new blood cells.

Why BMT may be mandatory for you someday?

Bone Marrow treatment may be needed for multiple bone marrow deformation causes.

  • Aplastic anaemia patients’ bone marrows stop producing new blood cells regularly.
  • Multiple Myeloma, Leukaemia and Lymphoma are the worst type of Cancers for bone marrows.
  • Congenital Neutropenia, deficiency of Neutrophils slows down the healthy regeneration of bone marrow.
  • Chemotherapy badly affects the growth and structure of Bone Marrow.

Types of pre Bone Marrow Transplant procedure

The procedure and type of Bone Marrow Transplant largely depends on the individual patient-history. For bone marrow cancer especially, bone marrow biopsy radiation, chemotherapy or both the procedures are done simultaneously.

The entire bone marrow transplant procedure is done in either way:

  • Mini Transplant (Reduced Intensity Treatment)

Throughout the pre-transplantation period, low doses of radiation and chemotherapy both are given. This treatment is optimal for older people and for people with other chronic physical complications.

  • Ablative (Myeloablative) treatment

This is an aggressive treatment with high doses of radiation, chemotherapy and even both if required.

What are the common complications which can arise with a Bone Marrow Transplant?

A stem cell transplant or a bone marrow transplant requires a massively intricate treatment and therefore, the chances of side effects and complications are very wide:

  • Sudden Drop of Blood Pressure
  • Nausea
  • Mouth Sores
  • Headache
  • Sharp Pain
  • Shortness of Breathe
  • Low levels of red blood cells
  • Low levels of platelets
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhoea

Few more serious side effects are:

  • graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) (where post-transplantation, the donor’s stem cell or bone marrow attacks the recipient)
  • Graft failure (recipient does not produce new cell after transplantation)
  • Permanent or semi-permanent damage to vital organs
  • Mucositis, soreness of mouth, throat and stomach
  • Bleeding from Lungs, Brain and other vital organs
  • Early menopause
  • Cataracts

Types of Bone Marrow Transplant

  • Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant

This treatment is done with the help of bone marrow donation. A donor whose genes at least partly match with the receiver’s genes is considered to be a match. Though blood-relatives are the best bone-marrow donors, you can find someone genetically appropriate through National Bone Marrow registries.

  • Autologous bone marrow transplant

This process is called rescue transplant. Here, the patient’s own bone marrow is collected and refrigerated before starting of chemotherapy and radiation. Once the high dose of chemotherapy and radiation are done, the preserved stem cells are planted in the bloodstream again.

  • Umbilical cord blood transplant

In this process, a baby’s umbilical cord stored and refrigerated at for possible future need.

What preparations to take before Bone Marrow Transplant

For determining what type of Bone Marrow transplant is applicable for you, a bunch of tests will be done. Before starting the new stem cells implementation process, generally, radiation and chemotherapy will be given.

The Bone Marrow Transplantation can take 1 week at an average. For this days-long treatment, you need to make some associated arrangements for you and your family members:

  • Booking a nursing home that has adjacent housing for the patient party
  • Safe arrangement of your dependent children
  • The arrangements for the treatment and post-care cost that includes insurance, bill payments, medicines and other associated costs
  • Medical leave from your workplace
  • Arrangement of all the necessary products of the patients to the hospitals (best bone marrow hospital in India will arrange the most of patient requirements)

How do the post-transplant days look like?

The success of a Bone Marrow Transplant surgery largely depends on the accurate bone marrow test and how well the donor’s genes match with the receiver’s.

After the initial transplant, your engraftment period will last from 10-28 days. The increase in White Blood Cell count indicates that the body is again successfully generating new blood cells.

Though after 3 months of successful transplantation, you are expected to be free from any direct effect of the procedure, it usually takes up to a year to be back to a normal lifestyle.

The major factors that work behind the recovery speed include:

  • The pre-surgical condition of the patient
  • Compatibility with the donor
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • The place of the transplantation

Though most of the symptoms are expected to go away with time, very few of them can even last for the lifetime.

What is bone marrow registry?

At the time of emergency, only a compatible donor can save the life of Lymphoma, Leukaemia, sickle cell anaemia and other lethal disease victims. By Bone Marrow Registry, you can actually save the lives of dying patients with your bone marrow donation.

Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors