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What is bone marrow?

It is the the soft spongy tissue present within long and flat bones and is responsible for producing cellular components of blood i.e. the red blood cells, white blood cells and the platelets.

What are stem cells?

These are undifferentiated cells which have the potency to further divide and form any type of cell that the body requires which can then reform and replace any tissue of the body.

Where are stem cells located?

Stem cells are abundant in the umbilical cord at birth. In adults they can be extracted from either the bone marrow or the peripheral blood.

What is Bone Marrow Transplant? Bone marrow transplant is also termed as hematopoietic stem cell transplant. It is a treatment modality consisting of high dose chemotherapy with or without radiotherapy followed by hematopoietic stem cell transfusion. In most of the cases, this is accomplished without any surgery.

In which diseases is bone marrow transplant done?

Bone marrow transplant is done for certain varieties of blood cancers, some other childhood cancers and some non cancerous diseases affecting the blood or immune system. It is commonly done for blood cancers like acute leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, myelofibrosis, lymphoms and multiple myeloa; childhood cancers like neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma, germ cell tumours, ewing’s sarcoma; and non cancerous conditions like thallasemia major, aplastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, Fanconi’s anemia and some inborn errors of metabolism.

What are the types of Bone Marrow Transplantation?

There are mainly two types of stem cell transplantation (SCT) –

Autologus : When the source of stem cells is patient itself. No separate donor of hematopoietic stem cells is needed.

Allogenic : when the source of stem cells is a donor. HLA mached siblings are usually preferred as allogenic donors.

What are the steps of Stem Cell Transplantation?

  • Routine physical examination and investigations – to assess the general level of health of the patient and assess his ability to withstand the procedure.

  • Harvesting –The hematopoietic stem cells to be used in the transplant are safely obtained either from the patient or a donor.

  • Conditioning – Chemotherapy and/or Radiotherapy given to the patient before the hematopoietic stem cell transfusion.

  • Transplant-Transfusion of the hematopoietic stem cells into the patient.

  • Recovery and Observation- The patient stays in a special area in the hospital, termed Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, until recovery. The rooms in the BMT Unit are specially designed with all necessary equipments to minimize the chances of infection.

For how many days will my patient have to stay in hospital?

Patients usually remain admitted in hospital for fifteen days to a month usually. However the process of complete recovery, especially after an allogenic bone marrow transplant can take upto a year or more.

What Are the Risks of Stem Cell Transplant?

Chemotherapy/ Radiotherapy related side effects, infections, bleeding risks, graft failure and graft versus host disease are the expected complication.

Is Bone Marrow Transplant costly?

Bone marrow transplant is a specialized procedure. It requires specially trained doctors, nurses and technicians and specialized infrastructure within the hospital. This procedure requires financial planning beforehand. However, the procedure is usually covered under many insurance policies and the hospital can provide assistance to patients in need of monetary guidance.


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