The bone marrow is the soft spongy fatty tissue located in your bones, where hematopoietic stem cells, or simply “stem cells” are produced. These stem cells are what create the other parts of the blood–that is the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Bone marrow/stem cells can be destroyed by disease, infection, chemotherapy, or any radiation therapy.
When the bone marrow or stem cells become diseased or damaged in a part of the body, that part begins to lose its function and die off over time, because the blood flows into the area will be cut off. A transplant can be done to revive the functioning of that part.
What Is Bone Marrow Transplant?
Bone marrow transplant also referred to as “stem cell transplant”, is a procedure where unhealthy bone marrow in a certain part of the body is replaced with healthy stem cells. These transplanted blood-forming stem cells will aid in the formation of a new marrow, produce new blood cells, and revive the area affected.
Stem cell transplant is generally used for:
- Replacing damaged bone marrow with healthy ones.
- Restoring the normal function of stem blood cells by replacing the bone marrow after a high dose of radiation or chemotherapy treatment.
- A new immune system regeneration that will combat residual cancers, like lymphoma, leukemia, etc, is not completely wiped out by chemo or radiation therapies.
- Preventing more damage from genetic disease by replacing diseased bone marrow with genetically healthy ones.
The transplant can be used to treat the following conditions:
1. Genetic/hereditary disorders such as:
- Sickle cell anaemia,
- Congenital neutropenia,
- Hurler’s syndrome, etc.
2. Hereditary & non-hereditary cancers such as:
- Multiple myeloma, etc.
3. Bone marrow failure
5. Aplastic anaemia
6. Plasma cell disorder
7. Myelodysplastic syndromes
10. Primary amyloidosis, among others.
Getting a bone marrow transplant means that you require healthy stem cells. These healthy functioning stem cells can be transplanted using:
- Autologous transplant, which involves the transplant of healthy stem cells from your body.
- Allogeneic transplant, which involves the transplantation of stem cells from a donor.
In selecting the type of transplant, your doctor will have to consider the type of disease that is being treated, the patient’s health, the patient’s age, and the quality of the bone marrow. For example, a patient with cancerous cells in the blood such as leukemia would rather have a donor’s stem cell transplanted because it will be had to find a stem blood cell that is not affected by cancer.
An allogeneic transplant is often done from a donor who has the same HLA type as the patient. The HLA matched donor can be a genetically related donor or unrelated donor.
However, the donor in stem cell transplant must not always be HLA matched with the patient. The other allogeneic transplant includes:
- Umbilical cord transplant, which involves the stem cells gotten from the umbilical cord of a baby at birth. The baby does not require the stem cells in the umbilical cord as it is cut off. Since the cells in the cord are immature, there is no need for perfect matching to any blood or HLA type, therefore, the cells are frozen and stored by many centres till they are needed for transplant.
- Haplotype (HLA) mismatched but genetically related transplant. The stem cells of a relative–parent, child, sibling–may not perfectly match the HLA type, but are often partially matched by 50% because they are blood-related. A transplant can therefore be done with these stem cells.
The risks and complications of stem cell transplant can include:
- Chest and overall body pains
- Reduced blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Fever, chills, and headaches.
- Nausea and/or diarrhoea.
- Internal bleeding in lungs, brains, and/or other parts of the body
- Failure of graft/transplanted stem cells.
- Donor stem cells may begin to attack your body.
- Anaemia, etc.
A talk with your doctor will help you weigh the potential benefits against the risks and give you an insight into how such risks can be evaded.
Bone Marrow Transplant Procedure
Before the transplant, you will run blood tests to identify your condition. Your condition will determine what type of transplant or procedure you would require. In the case of cancer, if you still want your body’s stem cells, the healthy stem cells will have to be first harvested from your body and then you will have to go through chemo or radiation therapy to kill the cancerous cells before your healthy cells are injected back.
You get to decide the type of transplant you are going for, based on your doctor’s recommendation. If from a donor, the donor’s stem cell is often tested for any infectious disease before transplanted into you.
The process/phases involve the following:
- Medicines that will induce the transfer of blood-forming cells into your bloodstream, will be injected into you or your donor.
- The blood is gotten from the body through the veins in you or your donor’s arm or chest.
- Stem cells are separated and collected from the blood and left frozen till you need them.
You will be conditioned by taken high-dose chemotherapy or radiation for some days to kill the diseased cells.
After days of conditioning, the stem cells will be unfrozen and infused into you the surgical intravenous line inserted into the central vein on your chest or neck. This takes a few hours and you will be given anesthesia to help you sleep through the hours and reduce the pains.
This takes days to weeks and you may have to stay in the hospital for monitoring while avoiding anything that can lead to an infection. Everywhere, everything and everybody around you has to be sanitized and clean.
Why In India?
The hospitals in India are committed to offering every patient the best treatments, care, and comfort. The country is continuously revolutionized stem cell treatments with newer and more advanced technologies, expanding the scope and propelling worldwide acceptance.
Her hospitals offer bone marrow transplants at its very best, with medical personnel that are experts in the field and affordable cost packages with flexible payment options. Also, the country hardly ever keeps any patient waiting for treatment. Once you are signed in for treatment, it is handle as fast as possible.
Bone Marrow Transplant Cost in India
The cost of a bone marrow transplant depends on the type of procedure or transplant that you have been recommended to have and which condition you are trying to treat.
Bone marrow transplant for cancer is the most common type of procedure. An allogeneic transplant from a non-related donor or stored umbilical cord stem cells is more expensive than the other transplants. In most advanced parts of the world, the cost of stem cell transplant is very high. For instance, the US has an estimated price range of $300,000 to 600,000. This is an astounding and “nearly-impossible-to-come-up-with” amount for average earners.
But in India, any stem cell transplant procedure ranges from $15,000 to $40,000.
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