All the Things You Need to Know About Bone Marrow Transplants
Whenever a person undergoes a few chemotherapy sessions, their doctors might suggest to them to undergo a bone marrow transplant as that the location of stem cell.
A bone marrow transplant, otherwise known as the Stem Cell Transplant, is a procedure where the stem cells from your body (autologous) or from a suitable donor (allogeneic) are transplanted into the patient’s body.
There are many reasons why this is done. First, this is done to help replenish all of the lost cells after the Chemotherapy sessions. Second, it is used to repair the damaged bone marrow due to the harsh procedure. And third, it can help kill off the remaining stem cells that were not eliminated in the previous chemotherapy sessions.
That being said, bone marrow transplants are used primarily in the treatment of different types of cancers. But, research shows that it is not only limited to that function. Some of the diseases that it can treat include:
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Aplastic Anemia
- Acute and Chronic Leukemia
- Multiple Myeloma
- Immune Deficiencies
- Primary amyloidosis
- Plasma or Immune Cell Disorders
Even though it can help in treating a lot of different medical conditions, there are also some risks that are inherently involved when doing such transplants.
For one, you might experience what is known as the GVHD or the Graft-Versus-Host-Disease. Since new stem cells essentially create your new immune system, the new cells might attack the already established organs in the patient’s body. This disease is only applicable for Allogeneic transplants.
You can also experience some infections as well. Since chemotherapy is dangerous as it makes your immune system very weak, you’re pretty much susceptible to a lot of different diseases. Because of this, you can even have infections that might lead to certain complications down the line.
The Actual Process
Bone marrow transplants are actually a process. Here is the usual flow:
The Battery of Tests and Extraction
First, you will be given a series of tests to evaluate your health and if your body is primed for a transplant. If you pass them all, you will then be implanted a long thin tube called an intravenous catheter and it serves as the pathway for your stem cells later on.
In this part of the process, stem cells are then collected either from your own body or from a donor. The stem cells are then preserved by freezing it and adding a special preservative to help maintain its “freshness” until the transplantation process begins.
Before the bone marrow stem cells are implanted, your body needs to undergo a few sessions of chemotherapy alongside some radiation as well. This is so that your body gets primed for the infusion process.
If you’re already old and your body cannot handle the stress that is associated with the usual chemotherapy session, your doctor might give you a low-intensity condition treatment instead.
Once that is done, the preserved stem cells will then be implanted in your body and it will go through the intravenous catheter. You will be awake through the entire process. Do not worry, it doesn’t hurt.
After everything is done, you will be closely monitored for any side effects or if there are any other complications. So, that’s pretty much it!