How are Bone Marrow Transplants Performed?


Stem cells are exchanged between individuals during a bone marrow transplant. The bone marrow or the circulating blood cells in the peripheral system can be used to extract stem cells. It takes about 3 hours.

You take chemotherapy to eliminate the sick cells and the uncooperative bone marrow to get ready for a stem cell transplant. After that, your blood is infused with transplanted blood stem cells.

Your marrow is where the donated stem cells eventually make their way to, where hopefully, they start to produce new, healthy blood cells. The patient does not experience a lot of pain during the treatment. The bone marrow is accessed through a tiny incision, and stem cells are extracted into syringes using a broad bore needle.

After the anesthetic goes off, the donor can feel pain. Painkillers can be required for the upcoming days. Below you can see how bone marrow transplants are performed:

What is a bone marrow transplant?

A bone marrow transplant is a treatment to replace unhealthy bone marrow with healthy marrow. Hematopoietic stem cells, relatively immature cells, are the precursors of your blood cells.

When they reach adulthood, they leave your bone marrow and enter your blood. Your body’s red blood cells carry oxygen around. Damaged bone marrow produces insufficient immune system cells and insufficient blood cells. A bone marrow transplant can treat several conditions, including malignant cancers.

Why is a bone marrow transplant done?

Your hematopoietic stem cells are located in your bone marrow. They develop into:

  • Oxygen is supplied to your body by Red blood cells.
  • The white blood cells support the immune system.
  • Your blood clots thanks to platelets.

Types of Bone Marrow Transplants

There are two various kinds of bone marrow transplants.

  • Autologous:

While you receive cancer therapy, your medical team removes stem cells from your bone marrow or blood and preserves them. After that, the stem cells are put into your circulation. The cells move to your bone marrow, where they multiply to assist in the production of new, healthy stem cells.

  • Allogeneic:

You receive stem cells from someone whose bone marrow is closely like yours after undergoing cancer treatment. This might be someone from a national donor list or a member of your immediate family, such as a parent or sibling.

A syngeneic transplant occurs when the donor is a sibling genetically similar to you and whose tissue type is the same as yours. Doctors can also use stem cells from the blood of a newborn’s umbilical cord.

Preparing for a Bone Marrow Transplant Surgery

Your doctor will decide the success of a bone marrow transplant for you. You will receive a physical examination and tests to determine your blood type and the efficiency of your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs. If a transplant sounds like a good option, you will discuss the operation and what to anticipate with you.

You will visit the hospital a few days before your transplant to have a tube called a central venous catheter inserted into a vein in your chest. Your medical staff will use it to draw blood and administer medication. Up to the end of your treatment, it will remain there.

Replacing diseased cells with healthy ones

Three different sources can provide these cells:

  • Bones’ marrow
  • Blood is taken from an umbilical cord after a baby is born
  • Peripheral (circulating) blood is often known as peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) or PBSC.

Doctors will decide which patient will benefit from the best supply of cells. They only ever employ cells that have been willingly donated by an adult donor or those that have been removed from the umbilical cord.

Following a full-term delivery in which the mother and child are both sound and secure:

  • Obtaining cells for a transplant using one’s bone marrow

The marrow in your hip bone may be harvested using a long needle by your doctor. It is performed in an operating room while you are under general anesthesia, so you are unconscious and have no feeling. The process takes one to two hours. You can leave that day or the following morning. For a few days, you might feel tired and sore.

A process known as apheresis allows them to harvest cells directly from your blood. For a few days before the procedure, you will need to take a medication called filgrastim, which causes your bone marrow to produce and release many stem cells.

  • Obtaining cells for a bone marrow transplant from unrelated donors

Your doctor will pair you with someone whose white blood cells contain the same human leukocyte antigen protein (HLA). Your family’s HLA type is a genetic trait.

The procedure to obtain stem cells is the same whether the donor is a relative or a stranger. At birth, once the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut, umbilical cord blood cells will be harvested if parents opt to donate them.

Bone Marrow Transplant Procedure

You will begin with a procedure known as conditioning. Typically, a large dose of chemotherapy may be combined with radiation and is administered for around 10 days.

Everybody’s experience is unique and depends on their current health and the disease they are treating.

Your bone marrow has more room to generate new cells after conditioning. Your immune system is also temporarily weakened to prevent your body from resisting the new cells.

Bone Marrow Transplant Recovery

Everyone’s recovery is unique, but you will generally stay in the hospital for a few weeks. Because of your weakened immune system, you will need to take medications to avoid getting sick. After your transplant, it may take your immune system a year or longer to recover.

To prevent infections and graft-vs-host disease, you will need to visit your doctor frequently and continue taking your meds. You could be advised to see a dietician by your medical team. They can collaborate with you to develop a food strategy to keep you healthy and help prevent infections.

Cost of Bone Marrow Transplant

Although bone marrow transplant is an expensive treatment, it can significantly improve the quality of patient life. The bone marrow transplant cost can be affected by many factors such as the type of BMT transplant, the hospital, and the country where bmt surgery is done.

In countries like India or Turkey, the cost of bmt treatment is much cheaper than the same treatment in medically developed countries like the USA or the UK.

Summing it up

Finally, the above details are about how bone marrow transplants are performed. This treatment helps you to treat bone marrow disease, and if you follow the instructions properly, this treatment will assist you in recovering quickly.

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