Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) is one of the most effective procedures that
help in treating various types of blood cancer. Most of these cancers start
in your bone marrow where blood is produced. The bone marrow is a soft,
spongy liquid tissue in the center of the bones. It has a rich supply of
stem cells, and its main job is to make blood cells that circulate in your
body. BMT majorly includes a medical process to replace the bone marrow
that has been damaged or destroyed due to infections or diseases. BMT helps
in production of new blood cells and promotes growth of new marrow. This
further helps the body make enough white blood cells, platelets or red
blood cells to avoid infection or bleeding disorders.
Types of BMT:
Autologous bone marrow transplant
also known as rescue transplant is the technique where stem cells are
removed from the body before the patient receives high-dose chemotherapy or
radiation treatment. The stem cells extracted from the body are stored in a
freezer at adequate temperature and returned into the body after the
Allogenic bone marrow transplant
is when another donor’s stem cell are removed and injected into the
patient’s body. Certain tests are performed in order to determine the match
of donor’s genes to patients. A family member such as a sister or a brother
is most likely to be a good match.
Umbilical cord blood transplant
is a kind of allogenic transplant which uses stem cells of newborn’s
umbilical cord right after birth. These stem cell collected are then stored
and used when needed. Today, bone marrow transplant has become easier due
to the advance technology in collecting and storing bone marrow from the
donor’s body. Bone Marrow is usually collected from donor body and stored
for future use.
Donor’s stem cells can be collected in two ways.
Bone marrow harvest
is a common procedure used for collecting donor’s stem cells. A minor
surgery is performed on the donor and the marrow is removed from the back
of the pelvic bone. The harvested marrow is filtered, stored in a special
solution in bags, and then frozen. When the marrow is to be used, it’s
thawed and then put into the patient’s blood through a vein, just like a
blood transfusion. The stem cells travel to the bone marrow and start to
make blood cells.
While in Leukapheresis, the donor’s stem cell from the
bone marrow is moved into the blood after which the blood is removed from
the body through IV line. The white blood cells & red blood cells are
separated, saving the white blood cells for the patient and returning the
red blood cell to the donor.
A successful BMT depends on the match between the donor & recipient
genes. Sometimes it get difficult to find a good match among unrelated
donors. The patient is kept under close monitor after the transplant. It
generally takes around 10 to 28 days after the initial transplant to notice
the first signs of rising white blood cell count. However, it takes around
typically 3 to 12 month to recover completely. Recovery also depends on
various factors such as donors match, condition of the patient being
treated, chemotherapy, etc. It is also possible that some of the symptoms
stay with the patient’s life long. One can also donate their bone marrow by
registering on the Marrow Donor Registry website.
A bone marrow transplant is sometimes the only option to treat the
life-threatening blood cancers disorders. With increasing technology and
new researches on the topic each day, it is only becoming easier to treat