Bone Marrow

Who Can Have A Bone Marrow Transplant?

Although it is mostly applied in cancer patients, it is also performed in patients with  diseases causing bone marrow failure.

When standard cancer treatment fails to destroy cancerous cells, this procedure helps patients heal.

Bone marrow transplant is a treatment method for:

  • Patients with Acute leukemia , lymphoma, and certain cancers,
  • Blood diseases such as thalassemia ,
  • Congenital or acquired bone marrow failures,
  • Certain body immune system deficiencies.

How is Bone Marrow Transplant Performed?

In bone marrow transplant, main stem cells in the marrow are collected from the marrow along with blood, and given to the patient intravenously. A procedure such as surgical bone cutting is out of question.

It is also possible to perform transplant using stem cells obtained from peripheral blood circulating in our veins, and from umbilical cord blood.

Before bone marrow transplant, all malignant cells must be killed as much as possible. For this, first chemotherapy, sometimes accompanied by radiotherapy, is applied, followed by bone marrow transplant.

What are Types of Bone Marrow Transplant?

Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant

Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant involves collecting stem cells from patient's own marrow and giving them back to the patient.

When stem cells are taken from the patient himself, there is a risk that the diseased cells get mixed into these.  Therefore it is not a widely preferred method.

Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant

This transplant method involves collection of cells from the patient’s own siblings, parents, relatives, or from non-related persons, i.e. the donor. 

Histocompatibility of the donor and acceptor is required. However, in some special cases, it is also acceptable to have less compatibility.

After Transplant

It takes around 10-15 days to produce blood cells again following stem cell transplant. Blood cells usually begin to increase as from day 10 after the transplant and the patient can be discharged on day 15. In this period, the patient’s own marrow cannot produce blood so s/he will be given blood products. Full recovery of the patient following bone marrow transplant takes 1 to 2 years.

The patient’s post-transplant blood cell count is low so the body becomes susceptible to infections. So it is important to strictly monitor the patient in a sterile environment.  If necessary, antibiotic treatment is started.

Post-transplant symptoms may include weakness, tastelessness in the mouth, pain inside the mouth, difficulty swallowing, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Patients who have had bone marrow transplant must take the following measures:

  • Protecting against air -borne germs by wearing a face mask
  • Staying away from people suffering from infectious diseases, including cold, flu,etc.
  • Avoiding contact with animals until the patient’s immune system heals
  • Avoiding contact with substances such as insecticides, paints because they have a risk of causing damage to bone marrow.
  • Having a shower daily
  • Washing hands frequently
  • Eating foods that accelerate the healing process
  •  Eating only well-cooked foods
  • Exercising
  • No smoking or drinking alcohol.