A bone marrow transplant, also known as a hematopoietic stem cell transplant, is a procedure that replaces damaged or diseased bone marrow with healthy stem cells. The bone marrow, found in the spongy tissue inside our bones, is responsible for producing vital blood cells. There are several reasons why someone may need a bone marrow transplant. It is commonly used to treat various blood disorders, including leukemia, lymphoma, and certain genetic conditions. It can also be an option for individuals with severe aplastic anemia or certain immune system diseases. The procedure involves three main stages:
Conditioning:Before the transplant, the patient undergoes chemotherapy or radiation therapy. This helps destroy any diseased cells and creates space in the bone marrow for the new stem cells.
Transplant:The patient receives healthy stem cells through an intravenous (IV) infusion. These stem cells can come from a donor (allogeneic transplant) or from the patient's own body (autologous transplant).
Recovery:After the transplant, the patient is closely monitored for potential complications, such as infections, graft-versus-host disease (in the case of an allogeneic transplant), or organ damage. The patient will receive supportive care, including medications, to help manage these side effects and promote recovery. Finding a compatible donor is a crucial step in the bone marrow transplant process. For patients without a compatible relative, the search relies on the worldwide registry, which includes potential volunteer donors. Donors are typically matched based on tissue type and other factors. Bone marrow transplants have the potential to be life-saving and offer hope for individuals with life-threatening blood disorders. Through public awareness and support, we can help increase the number of potential donors, improve access to transplantation, and ultimately save more lives.