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A bone marrow transplant is a treatment that replaces unhealthy marrow with a healthy one. It’s also called a blood or marrow transplant.
What is bone marrow?
Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue inside your bones that makes blood-forming cells (blood stem cells). These cells turn into blood cells including White Blood cells to fight infection. Red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Platelets to control bleeding.
How does transplant work?
Before transplant, you get chemotherapy (chemo) with or without radiation to destroy the diseased blood-forming cells and marrow. Then, healthy cells are given to you. The new cells go into your bloodstream through an intravenous (IV) line, or tube. It’s just like getting blood or medicine through an IV. The cells find their way into your marrow, where they grow and start to make healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Bone marrow transplants can treat:
Blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma
Bone marrow diseases like aplastic anemia
Other immune system or genetic diseases like sickle cell diseases.
Read more about the 3 common types of BMT:
Autologous transplant – uses your own blood-forming cells
Allogeneic transplant – uses blood-forming cells donated by someone else.
Bone marrow donation is done under general or regional anesthesia so the donor experiences no pain during the donation procedure. Discomfort and side effects after the donation vary from person to person. Most marrow donors experience some side effects like back or hip pain.
The predicted rate of survival was 62 percent. In allogeneic bone marrow transplantation, a person's blood-forming stem cells are eliminated and then replaced with new, healthy ones obtained from a donor or from donated umbilical cord blood.
Marrow Donation: Marrow is taken through a needle placed into the donor's pelvic (hip) bone while the patient is under anesthesia. The procedure is performed in a hospital operating room and takes 1 to 2 hours. Donors typically give about 2 to 3 percent of their marrow, which grows back within a few weeks.
(Image: Representation only)