Understanding A Bone Marrow Transplant

Bone Marrow AspirationA bone marrow transplant is a medical procedure that replaces  a person’s damaged or destroyed with healthy bone marrow stem cells. Bone marrow is a fatty, soft tissue that exist inside of the bones. Bone marrow stem cells are immature cells that grows all of the bodies blood cells.

There are three types of bon marrow transplants.

The first one is an Autologous bone marrow transplant: The is means that stems cells come from the same body that will be transplant. The term auto – in autologous, means self. The stem cells will then be frozen in cryopreservation. After high dosage of radiation treatments or chemotherapy, the stems cells are placed back into the body to regenerate blood cells, this also known as a rescue transplant.

The second type is a Allogenic bone marrow transplant: The term “allo” from allogeneic means other. In this case stem cell are removed form another person or donor. In most cases the donor’s genes will have to match (at least partly) the recipients genes. A brother or sister are likely the best matches.  Sometime a parent or child can be good matches. Donors who are not related to the recipient can be found through the national bone marrow registry.

The third type of transplant is an Umbilical cord blood transplant. This type of allogenic transplant happens when the stem cells are removed form a newborn baby umbilical cord right after child birth. Umbilical cord blood cells are extremely immature so there is no need to match, however blood counts take a much longer time to recover.

Before a patient undergoes a Bone Marrow Transplantbone marrow transplant, they will be given radiation, chemotherapy, or both. This id done in two different ways.

  • The ablative or myeloablative treatment is a high-dose  chemotherapy, radiation to kill cancer cells. However it also kills all healthy bone marrow that allows new stem cells to grow in the bone marrow.
  • There is also the Reduced Intensity Treatment. This called a n mini transplant. This is when a Patient receive lower does of chemotherapy and radiation before a transplant. This allows older patients and those with health problems to undergo the transplant.

The stem cell transplant is done after the chemotherapy and radiation is complete. The bone marrow stem cells are delivered into the bloodstream through a central venous catheter. The process is similar to getting a blood transfusion. The stem cells travel through the blood to the bone marrow. Often no surgery is needed.

Bone Marrow from hipThe Donor stem cells can be collected in two different ways.

  • A bone marrow harvest is a minor surgery, while the patient is under anesthesia. The donor will be sleep and pain-free during the procedure. The bone marrow is removed form the back of both hep bones. The amount of marrow removed depends on the sized (height, weight) of the recipient.
  • The second process is Leukapheresis, where the donor is given 5 days of shots to help the bone marrow stem cells move into the blood. Leukapheresis  requires the blood to be removed through an IV in the vein. The white blood cells are separated in a machine and the white blood cells are given to the recipient and the red blood cells are returned to the donor

A bone marrow transplant will replace the bone arrow that has been destroyed via radiation and chemotherapy. Health care Physician think that a donor’s white blood cells can fight off any  remaining cancer. Doctors may recommend a bone marrow transplant for certain cancers and diseases that affect the production of bone marrow cells and white blood cells or platelets.


A bone marrow transplant may cause the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Flushing
  • Funny taste in the mouth
  • Headache
  • Hives
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath

There are possible complications of a bone marrow transplant depend on many things, including:

  • The disease the patient is being treated for
  • If  you had chemotherapy or radiation before the bone marrow transplant and the dosages of such treatments
  • Your age
  • Your overall health
  • How good of a match your donor was
  • The type of bone marrow transplant you received (autologous, allogeneic, or umbilical cord blood)

Complications can include:

  • Anemia
  • Bleeding in the lungs, intestines, brain, and other areas of the body
  • Cataracts
  • mall veins of the liver may develop clotting
  • Damage to the kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart
  • Delayed growth in children who receive a bone marrow transplant
  • Early menopause
  • Graft failure, which means that the new cells do not settle into the body and start producing stem cells
  • Host versus graft diseases, a condition in which the donor cells attack your own body
  • Infections, which can be very serious
  • Inflammation and soreness in the mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach, called mucositis
  • Pain
  • Stomach problems, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting

Before you have a procedure your doctor will do a medical exam and throughly ask about your medical history. You will also undergo treatment. Your doctor will insert two catheters into the blood vessel  via your neck or arms. You will recieve treatment fluids and nutrition.

Also the doctor will offer help in dealing with emotional stress of dealing with a bone marrow transplant.

A bone marrow transplant is usually done in the hospital or center that specializes in treatment. You will stay in the bone marrow transplant center to limit infection. Depending on the type of treatment, an autologous or allogeneic transplant may be done as an outpatient, so you would not have to stay in the hospital over night.

A patients hospital stay would depend on the amount or radiation and chemotherapy and type of transplant procedure. A patient will be isolated because there is increased risk of infection. The hospital will monitor  the patients blood counts and vitals.

  • The hospital may give the patient medications, such as antifungals, antivirals and antibiotics to treat infections.
  • Give the patient blood transfusions.
  • Feed through vein (IV) until side effects from mouth and stomach sores have gone.
  • Given medications to prevent graft versus host disease.

How well a patient does after a transplant depends on a few factors:

  • How well the donor match is
  • The type of bone marrow transplant
  • The cnacer or illness that the patient has
  • THe age and overall health of the patient
  • The dosage of chemotherapy and radiation therapy before the bone marrow transplant
  • Any complication.

A bone marrow transplant can partially or completely cure an ailment.  Successful transplants, allow the patient to go back to normal activities as soon as the feel well again. It can take up to a year to fully recover.

Complications or failure with a transplant can lead to death. Soon survival rates for patients receiving relative bone marrow will go up to 85%


Health Life Media Team