Hematology & Oncology
Bone Marrow Transplant
Understanding Bone Marrow Transplant
Healthy marrow and blood cells are needed to live. Disease can affect the marrow's ability to function. When this happens a bone marrow or cord blood transplant could be the best treatment option. For some diseases, transplant offers the only potential cure.
A bone marrow or cord blood transplant replaces unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy ones. Blood-forming cells are also called blood stem cells. Blood stem cells are immature cells that can grow into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
There are two types of transplant. An autologous transplant uses your own cells which are collected from the bloodstream and stored for your transplant. An allogeneic transplant uses cells from a family member, unrelated donor or umbilical cord blood unit.
There are three sources of blood-forming cells used in transplants:
- Bone marrow.
- Peripheral (circulating) blood (also called peripheral blood stem cell or PBSC).
- Umbilical cord blood collected after a baby is born.
If a transplant is needed, the patient will be referred to a doctor who specializes in bone marrow transplants. The transplant doctor will talk to you about the type of transplant and cell source that is most likely to work best based on disease and other health factors.
How a transplant works
An autologous transplant is a way to treat cancer using very high doses of chemotherapy that destroy the bone marrow as a side effect. The autologous blood cells replace the damaged marrow. This is how autologous transplants are used to fight certain types of cancers such as lymphoma.
An allogeneic transplant also treats cancers of the blood, and offers the added benefit of using the donor's immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Allogeneic transplant is also used to treat some non-cancerous diseases such as sickle cell anemia. In non-cancerous diseases, the transplant replaces defective marrow cells with the donor's healthy cells.
On the transplant day, known as Day 0, the replacement cells are infused into your blood stream. These cells know where they belong in the body. They move through the bloodstream and settle in the bone marrow.
Until donated cells start to grow and make new blood cells, you will have low numbers of all types of blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets). Waiting for engraftment lasts from 10 to 21 days for marrow and peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC), and up to 6 weeks for cord blood transplants.
Engraftment is when the donated cells begin to grow and make new red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. At this point, blood cell numbers will begin to go up. The immune system will become stronger (although it will still be weaker than usual for many months). Engraftment and early recovery lasts from around day 30 to day 100. The entire process, from the start of the preparative regimen until hospital discharge, can last weeks to months, followed by many months of recovery at home.
Prevention of Infection after Bone Marrow Transplant
Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) has shown benefit in reducing septicaemia, interstitial pneumonia, fatal cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease, acute GVHD and transplant-related mortality in adult recipients of related marrow transplants.
At NuFACTOR, we are committed to providing our patients all of the education, support and resources necessary to complete treatment successfully and with the desired outcomes. Please contact us with any further questions.
This content is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.