A bone marrow transplant is done by transferring healthy stem cells to the patient’s body. Stem cells can either be collected from the circulating cells in the blood (the peripheral system) or from the bone marrow.
- Peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs): the blood stem cells are collected by apheresis. It is a procedure in which the donor is connected to a special cell separation machine via a needle inserted in the vein. Blood is taken from one vein and is circulated though the machine. It helps in removing the stem cells and returns the remaining blood and plasma back to the donor through another needle inserted into the opposite arm. A medication may be given to the donor prior to apheresis that stimulates the bone marrow to increase production of new stem cells.
[Read: How is Bone Marrow Transplant done?]
- Bone marrow harvest: this process involves collecting stem cells with a needle placed into the bone marrow. The stem cells are mainly collected from the hip bones and sternum.
The blood is then tested for type and presence of viruses or disease, and the stem cells are counted. The cord blood is then stored in special freezers and is registered in a national registry for potential recipient matches.
[Read: What are the Risks of Bone Marrow Transplant?]
The preparations for a bone marrow transplant vary depending on the type of transplant, the disease requiring transplant, and your child's tolerance for certain medications. Consider the following:
- Ablative therapy: it is the first step in the process of bone marrow transplant. In this, the bone marrow is ‘emptied’ to make space for new blood cells to develop. Through the process of radiation or chemotherapy, the production of blood cells in the bone marrow is narrowed, which in turn helps to make room for the new cells.
[Read: What is Bone Marrow Transplant?]
- Marrow transplant: a central venous catheter is attached to a vein in the chest of the patient. Bone marrow is then transferred through this catheter directly into the blood stream of the patient. The stem cells find their way into the bone marrow where they start reproducing healthy blood cells.
- Post treatment: after the bone marrow transplant, frequent blood tests need to be done in order to check for any side effects or complications.
Physical and mental health of the patient, are important in the success of a transplant. Every measure should be taken to minimize complications.
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