Bone marrow transplantation is a procedure similar to a blood transfusion, used to remove injured and damaged bone marrow in patients with aggressive cancerous malignancies such as leukemia. The bone marrow is a soft-like tissue found inside the bones of the body. It is a tissue that that produces the stem cells, also known as hematopoietic stem cells that form the blood cells in the body. Hematopoietic stem cells are originally derived from embryonic cells of the fetus. Bone marrow transplantation is a treatment used to restore and replace damaged hematopoietic stem cells either by replacing them with healthy cells from the patient himself, or from a compatible donor. Bone marrow transplantation treatment is also used in patients who have under gone remission after high doses of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
There are 3 different types of bone marrow transplants: autogolous bone marrow transplant, allogeinic bone marrow transplant and an umbilical cord transplant. An autogolous transplantation is done by removing and freezing as many healthy stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow before receiving chemotherapy treatment, while an allogeinic transplantation is achieved by removing healthy stem cells from another person who is genetically compatible to donate. An umbilical cord transplant is the same procedure, but made from an umbilical cord of a newborn. It used to freeze and store the immature stem cells for later treatment purposes.
The bone marrow is the most sensitive organ in the body in regards to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, therefore a stem cell transplant almost always recommended after these treatments. There are two types of chemotherapy and radiation treatments being made, one is by the high-dose ablative method, using either chemotherapy or radiation, or a combination of both, and non-myoablative therapy, which uses a lower dose of chemotherapy or radiation. Bone marrow transplantation is usually done immediately after ablative treatments.
If the stem cells cannot be derived from the patient himself, then prior to the transplant, the donor will be given g-GSF, a growth factor that mobilizes the stem cells in the bloodstream, the cells are then collected through a procedure called apheresis A-4. Once the patient has undergone the preparative regimen procedure for chemotherapy he will then have room to replace the bloodstream with healthy hematopoietic cells. Since high doses of chemotherapy are usually given to these types bone marrow disorders, the impact of the immunosuppressive treatment is extremely heavy on the body. Therefore, there are as many precautions taken when undergoing chemotherapy treatment as there are when undergoing compensative replacement treatment (bone marrow transplantation). Complications or failure of treatment may be fatal, while, on the other hand, if the treatment is well taken, patients usually go back to normal life after 1-2 years after the transplant.