Bone marrow and stem cell transplant

Bone Marrow Through Stem Cell Transplant

A stem cell or bone marrow transplant replaces damage blood cells with a healthy one. It can be use to cure conditions that affects the blood cells like lymphoma and leukemia. It can also cure hereditary diseases such as sickle cell anemia.

bone marrow produce stem cells. The stem cells are used treat various diseases.
Bone marrow produce stem cells

A spongy tissue found in the center of some bones is know as bone marrow. The bone marrow produce special cells known as stem cells that can differentiate into various types of stem cells. There are 3 main types of blood cells that stem cells can become. They are:

  • Red blood cells (carry oxygen in the body)
  • White blood cells (fight infections)
  • Platelets (helps to stop bleeding)

Stem cells obtain from the blood or bone marrow destroys and replaces the damaged or unhealthy blood cells in a stem cell transplant.

Why stem cell transplants are done?

Stem cell transplant is used to treat various conditions where the bone marrow is damage and unable to produce new healthy blood cells. Also, transplants are perform to replace blood cells damaged by intensive cancer treatment. Stem cell transplant can treat conditions like:

  • Bone marrow failure
  • Leukemia (cancer of white blood cells)
  • Lymphoma (another cancer of white blood cells)
  • Myeloma (cancer affecting plasma cells)
  • Blood, immune system and metabolic disorder such as sickle cell anemia, SCID, thalassemia and Hurler syndrome.

A stem cell transplant will be required if other treatments fail. As the possible benefits of a transplant dominates the risks and improves the patients health, despite the condition.

Stages of stem cell transplant:

Stem cell transplant involves taking healthy stem cells from the blood or bone marrow of one person and transferring them into another, called allogeneic transplant. Thus, stem cells are ideally, obtained from a close family member with similar or same type of tissue.

However, it is also possible to take stem cells from the patients own body and transplant them later, after removing any diseased or damaged cells. This is an autologous transplant.

There are mainly 5 stages of a stem cells transplant. They are:

  1. Test and examination
  2. Harvesting (obtaining stem cells)
  3. Conditioning (treatment with chemo or radiotherapy to prepare body for transplant)
  4. Transplanting the stem cells
  5. Recovery

Undergoing a stem cell transplant can be an intensive and challenging experience. It requires a month or more to stay in the hospital until the transplant starts showing progress. Furthermore, it takes a year or 2 for full recovery.

Risks:

Since, stem cell transplant is a complicated process with some serious risks. So, it is important that a patient is aware of both the risks and benefits before the treatment begins.

Problems that can occur during or after the transplant include:

  • graft versus host disease (GvHD)- this happens in allogeneic transplant when the transplanted cells start to attack other cells in body.
  • number of blood cell reduces- this may lead to anemia, excessive bleeding or bruising and high risk of infections.
  • side effects of chemotherapy including sickness, loss of hair and infertility.

Furthermore, after a transplant, the patients needs to follow up regularly with the doctor so that they can monitor how the body and immune system is responding to the transplant.