Bone Marrow transplantation is a relatively new medical procedure where stem cells from the bone marrow are taken out and filtered to be given back either to the same person or another person. Being the main blood cell factory of the body, bone marrow forms a very critical part of human body. It is used to treat several diseases today that were considered to be incurable earlier. Since the first bone marrow transplant that was successfully done in 1968, this procedure has been used to cure aplastic anemia, leukemia, multiple myeloma, immune deficiency disorders, lymphomas such as Hodgkin’s disease, and some solid tumors such as ovarian and breast cancer. Even though thousands of patients undergo BMT each year in the United States itself, more than double the number of people are not able to get BMT done due to unavailability of a suitable bone marrow donor.
Now we come to the basic question: why BMT? In patients with any of the diseases mentioned above, either a large number of defective or immature blood cells are produced (in the case of leukemia), or there is an exceedingly low blood count (in the case of aplastic anemia). These defective blood cells accumulate in the blood cell and interfere with their function, or even invade other tissues. These abnormal blood cells can be destroyed by large doses of radiation or chemotherapy, which can even destroy normal blood cells in the bone marrow. A bone marrow transplant can be used by the doctors to treat abnormal blood cells with radiation and replace the damaged bone marrow with new one. Even though, BMT does not guarantee against recurrence of the disease, but can help the patient enjoy a healthier life for a prolonged period of time.
A transplant of any sorts is accompanied with several complications and is a harrowing experience to say the least. For a BMT, a patient has to be physically and mentally healthy enough to undergo the rigors of this complicated procedure. A battery of tests is conducted before the transplant and then after it to make sure that the body has not been impaired in any way. Bone marrow transplant is conducted by an expert team of doctors and nurses who specialize in this particular procedure. In this case, doctors also need to provide physical and psychological support to the patient and his family, before, during and even after the bone marrow transplant.
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