A stem cell transplant (sometimes called a bone marrow transplant) is a medical procedure in which diseased bone marrow is replaced by highly specialized stem cells that develop into healthy bone marrow.
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The goal of a bone marrow transplant is to cure many diseases and types of cancer. When the doses of chemotherapy or radiation needed to cure a cancer are so high that a person's bone marrow stem cells will be permanently damaged or destroyed by the treatment, a bone marrow transplant may be needed.
1) Replace non-functioning bone marrow with a healthy functioning bone marrow. It is generally done in conditions such as leukemia, Aplastic Anemia, and Sickle Cell Anemia.
2) Replace the bone marrow when a high dose of chemotherapy or radiation is given to treat a malignancy and then it is restored for its normal function. This procedure may be done for diseases such as Lymphoma, Neuroblastoma and Breast Cancer.
3) Replace bone marrow to prevent it from a genetic disease process such as Hurler's syndrome, and Adrenoleukodystrophy.
There are various types of transplants. The difference between the types of transplants has to do with the source of the transplanted cells. The type of transplant patients receives :
- Autologous transplant: Transplanted cells come from the body of the transplant recipient.
- Allogeneic transplant: Transplanted cells come from a donor who may be related to the recipient (a family member) or unrelated.
- Syngeneic transplant: Transplanted cells come from an identical twin sibling. (This is a type of allogeneic transplant.)
- Cord blood: Transplanted cells come from the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born. This blood is rich in blood-forming cells. (This is a type of allogeneic transplant.)
- Mixed chimerism transplant: Transplanted cells come from either a related or unrelated donor. The transplant takes place after the recipient has a moderate dose of chemotherapy and radiation to set up a mixed immune system. This type is also called a mini-transplant or nonmyeloablative transplant The days before transplant are counted as minus days. The day of transplant is considered day zero. Engraftment and recovery following the transplant are counted as plus days. For example, a patient may enter the hospital on day -8 for preparative regimen. The day of transplant is numbered zero. Days +1, +2, etc., will follow. There are specific events, complications, and risks associated with each day before, during, and after transplant. The days are numbered to help the patient and family understand where they are in terms of risks and discharge planning.
- Chest pain
- Spend several weeks in the hospital
- Be very susceptible to infection
- Experience excessive bleeding
- Need blood transfusions
- Be confined to a clean environment
- To take multiple antibiotics and other medications
The new bone marrow normally takes almost a year in order to function normally. During this period the patient is to be monitored closely to identify any infections or complications that may develop. The recovery process continues for several months or longer after discharging from the hospital, during which time the patient cannot return to work or many previously enjoyed activities.