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The Basic Essentials of a Bone Marrow Transplant That All Should Know About

Our body is made of various tissues and organs. Right from minute cells to large organs, everything that we have needs to be taken care of. While some are very crucial for our survival, there are others which can be substituted for with proper treatment. While medical science is trying with each passing day to bring down our health issues as much as possible, there are certain problem areas that are awaiting proper treatment plans.

What is a bone marrow and its importance?

Well, of all the many important organs and tissues that we have, one very important constituent of every human body is the bone marrow. Bone marrow is, basically, a spongy textured tissue which is found in different bones of the body. It is generally concentrated in the thigh and hip bones of the body, and it has a very important function to perform. Our blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Of the many important functions that our blood performs, the most important one is transferring nutrients to the essential organs. Without this nutrition, the organs will fail to function properly and hence lead to multi-organ failure.

The bone marrow is responsible for producing these blood cells, particularly the red blood cells in large quantities. It contains some immature cells known as stem cells which are almost programmed by the body to produce red blood cells. Hence, if something affects or damages the bone marrow, our basic blood production will get affected and, in the long run, result in something fatal. Thus, bone marrow is one of the essential tissues that one needs for the human body to function properly.

Diseases that damage the function of a bone marrow

Various kinds of diseases can affect your bone marrow and the production of blood cells and stem cells, which are crucial for the body to function. Some such diseases like sickle cell anaemia, leukaemia, etc. These are life-threatening diseases since they tamper with the production of blood cells of the bone marrow and hence affect immunity and also disturb the distribution of nutrients to various parts of our body. Thus, in cases like these, the best treatment plan is to go for a bone marrow transplant.

What isa bone marrow transplant, and its basic details?

A bone marrow transplant is, basically, taking out the damaged tissue and replacing it with healthy bone marrow tissue which matches the recipient’s bone marrow type. It is essential that the bone marrow tissue being donated be a match to that of the patient; otherwise, the transplant will not be successful, and the body will start rejecting the new bone marrow. This is what makes the entire process pretty risk and time-consuming since one has to wait to find the right matching donor before the process can be undertaken.

Most of the cells in a person’s body contain HLA or the human leukocyte antigen. This is, basically, a series of proteins. In order to determine whether or not one is a match, the number of matching proteins is checked, and if they match, then that person can become a donor. Generally, siblings are more likely to become bone marrow donors because most of the times they are a 100% match. However, sometimes bone marrow transplant can be conducted in patients by taking the bone marrow from their other body parts. Suppose, if the bone marrow of the thigh bone gets damaged and the bone marrow of the breastbone or sternum is in a healthy shape, then there is no need for a donor. The patient, himself/herself, can act as the donor where the thigh bone marrow will be replaced with bone marrow from the sternum bones.

As you can see, thus, there will be different kinds of a bone marrow transplant. The cost of bone marrow transplant in india will vary according to the complexity and intricacy of the procedure. There are mainly five types of bone marrow transplant currently in practice today, namely, umbilical cord blood, haploidentical transplantation, allogeneic transplant, syngeneic transplant and autologous transplant. Let us take a look at each of them:

Umbilical cord blood transplant: This is more of a precautionary measure that is being adopted by parents all over the world. Right after a baby is born, the cells from the umbilical cord are taken, and they are frozen so that if need be, they can be used one day.

Haploidentical transplantation: Sometimes it becomes really difficult to find HLA compatible donors. In such cases, this method of transplant is often used with great success.

Allogeneic transplant: This is what is basically understood as bone marrow transplant. The donor is either a sibling or even a parent with the right match. It can also be someone who is unrelated, but there is a match.

Syngeneic transplant: If a patient has an identical twin, then only can this procedure be successful. In this process, the stem cells from the identical twin of the patient are taken and replaced.

Autologous transplant: This is the type of transplant in which the patient himself or herself becomes the donor when stem cells are taken from other parts of the body.

Depending on the nature of the damage and severity of the condition and also the available resources, doctors often decide which the right course of treatment is. A lot of other factors like age, sex, etc. are also taken into account before the procedure is conducted.

Recovery after a bone marrow transplant

A foreign object has been inserted into the body, and hence, it takes quite some time to cope even if the body readily accepts the borrowed stem cells. Naturally, the recovery time is lesser in case of an autologous transplant, when done correctly. One has to take proper rest during this period. Both the donor and the recipient need to take care of themselves. One should always be aware in case any fever strikes up which might a sign of an internal infection.

A bone marrow transplant is one of the most complex medical processes, but when done right, it can actually save someone’s life.

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