Bone Marrow Transplant(BMT)

Also referred to as stem cell transplant is a widely popular treatment therapy for patients suffering from diseases which affect the normal functioning of the bone marrow. Medical treatment in India and outside in treating any such condition involves the removal of harmful and damaging bone marrow cells and replacing them with healthy cells. Now before we get into further discussion, let’s get familiar with Bone Marrow first:

What is Bone Marrow?

Bone marrow is a semi-solid(jelly type) tissue found within the spongy or cancellous portions of bones. There are two types of bone marrow found in humans:

  • Red Bone Marrow or Myeloid Tissue
  • Yellow Bone Marrow or fatty Tissues

Bone marrow is responsible for the production of both red blood cells(RBCs), white blood cells(WBCs) and blood platelets.

What conditions require a Bone Marrow Transplant?

Bone Marrow Transplant is generally done when the bone marrow isn’t performing the functions it is meant to be and therefore requires replacement. This can happen due to a number of reasons. Some of the major reasons are as follows:

  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Leukemia, Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma
  • Chemotherapy damaging the bone marrow
  • Congenital Neutropenia
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Thalassemia
  • Immune deficiency disorder

Types of Bone Marrow Transplant:

There are primarily two ways to perform Bone Marrow Transplant(BMT):

1.   Autologous Transplant:

 This technique uses the patients’ own blood cells where the blood cells are stored beforehand when performing chemo or other treatment therapies which may result in the damage of bone marrow. The collected blood cells are then transferred back once the treatment is over.

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2.   Allogeneic Transplant:

 Allogeneic Treatment involves the transfer of healthy stem cells from a donor which typically exhibits at least a partial genetic match with the patient. A series of procedures involving a number of tests to decide whether the donor is a perfect fit for the patient is conducted. Patients can also get matches from the National Bone Marrow registries in case no match is found among family members.

Side effects of Bone Marrow Transplant:

Bone Marrow Transplant comes at a cost and can have some long-term side effects including some minor side effects which are:

  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Sore mouth
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Decreased level of platelets, red blood cells
  • Diarrhea

Other major complications include:

  • Graft-versus-host disease (allogeneic transplant only)
  • Stem cell (graft) failure
  • Organ damage
  • Infections
  • Cataracts
  • Infertility
  • New cancers
  • Death

Out of all the above side effects, GVHD is one of the major ones and can cause some serious damage including death. For people who aren’t aware of what GVHD(Graft-versus-host disease) is, here’s what you need to know:

GVHD(Graft-versus-host disease):

GVHD is a condition post the Allogeneic Transplant wherein the donor’s immune cells which had been brought in to replace the host’s unhealthy cells begin to attack the host cells. The graft (donated cells) start attacking and can cause trouble to the host’s organs. Some common health issues GVHD can cause are:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Skin irritation
  • Jaundice
  • Liver Damage
  • Can affect different organs of the host’s body

Also, it is to be noted that GVHD can develop irrespective of the donor i.e., it doesn’t matter if the donor and host are related or not. However, in case of a relation, the ratio is slightly lower(30-40%) whereas in the case of unrelated donor and host the ratio is almost double(60-80%).

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Even though GVHD can be life claiming, it can also have some positive effects like killing off the remaining( if any) cancer cells present in the host. However, it is advisable that the patient is getting regular check-ups after the transplant as it will not only lower the risk of GVHD but will also keep it in check.

Also Read: STEM CELLS THE MIRACULOUS REPAIR

Conclusion:

Bone Marrow Transplant is an effective way to treat many diseases related to cancer or the after-effects of cancer treatment. Medical Treatment in India as well as outside India considers BMT as a successful treatment strategy irrespective of the side-effects.

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