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Bone Marrow Transplant:

Bone marrow is the soft, fatty tissue found inside of bones, which contain stem cells. A bone marrow transplant is a procedure in which healthy bone marrow stem cells are injected into a patient in order to replace bone marrow that has become dysfunctional or has been destroyed by chemotherapy or radiation. Bone marrow transplants are often recommended for cancer patients diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, as well as for patients with other conditions, which affect the bone marrow's production of stem cells. These conditions include sickle cell anemia, aplastic anemia, thalassemia, congenital neutropenia and severe immunodeficiency syndromes. (Source: www.nlm.nih.gov)

Types Of Bone Marrow Transplants:

The procedure has three different variations. The first is the Autologous bone marrow transplant, during which stem cells are extracted from the patient prior to chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Also called a "rescue transplant," this procedure allows the patient to withstand high levels of the treatments without irreversible damage to their stem cells. When these treatments are completed, the patient's extracted stem cells are reintroduced into their bone marrow. The second variation is Allogeneic bone marrow transplant, and requires the donation of bone marrow-derived or blood-derived stem cells from another person. The donor is often required to have a matching blood type to the patient, so family members and relatives are often ideal candidates. The final variation is the umbilical cord transplant, in which stem cells are extracted from an umbilical cord directly following an infant's birth then tested, classified, counted and frozen until they can be used for a transplant. Since the stem cells in umbilical cords are immature, blood type matching isn't as strict of a donor requirement in this category. (Source: www.nlm.nih.gov)

Risks:

All types of bone marrow transplants have risks, which range in severity, depending upon which disease the patient has, what kind of treatment is being used, the age and general health of the patient, and the type of transplant being implemented. There are many complications that can arise from each type, including:

  • Infections
  • Bleeding (especially in the lungs, intestines and brain)
  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
  • Pain
  • Inflammation in the mouth, espophagus and stomach
  • Kidney, liver and heart damage
  • Early menopause
  • Graft failure - when the donated cells do not work properly
  • Graft-versus-host disease - when the donated cells attack the patient's body (Source: www.nlm.nih.gov)
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