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What is Bone Marrow ?
Bone marrow is a spongy material found in the hollow centres of some bones. It is important as it contains special cells known as stem cells.
Stem cells create other specialised cells that carry out important functions. Stem cells in bone marrow produce three important types of blood cells:
- red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body
- white blood cells, which help fight infection
- platelets, which help stop bleeding
Bone marrow transplantation
Bone marrow transplantation (also known as stem cell transplantation) involves harvesting healthy stem cells to replenish the bone marrow of the patient. The new stem cells take over the production of the blood cells.
In some circumstances, it may be possible to take your own bone marrow from another part of your body (this is known as autologous transplantation). The bone marrow may be cleared of any diseased cells before being returned
Bone marrow transplant - How it is performedStages of the transplant process
There are five stages in the transplant process:
- a physical examination of your body and general state of health
- obtaining the stem cells that will be used in the transplant (known as harvesting)
- preparing your body for the transplant (known as conditioning)
- transplanting the stem cells
- the recovery period, during which you will be monitored for any side effects and complications
Stem cell transplantations are often required to treat conditions that have damaged the bone marrow which, as a result, can no longer produce normal blood cells. Any disruption to the production of blood cells can be very serious, particularly if:
- You do not have enough red blood cells. Your body will be starved of oxygen, you will feel faint and tired and damage to your organs may occur.
- You do not have enough white blood cells. You have a much higher risk of developing a serious infection.
- You do not have enough platelets, which means you will bruise and bleed more easily.
Some of the conditions that can affect blood and bone marrow are described below.
Leukaemia is cancer of the white blood cells. The cancer causes the white blood cells to replicate in an uncontrollable manner and they do not develop any infection-fighting properties.
The cancerous cells can quickly spread through the bloodstream, resulting in a lack of room for red blood cells and platelets.
This leads to symptoms of anaemia, increases the risk of serious infection, and means that you will bruise and bleed more easily.Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is another type of cancer of the white blood cells. However, rather than spreading through the bloodstream, it spreads through the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a series of connected glands (nodes) that are spread throughout your body. It is an important part of your immune system, the body's natural defence against infection.Inherited (genetic) blood disorders
There are a number of genetic blood disorders where alterations (mutations) in your genes mean that blood cells do not develop normally. These include sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia, both of which interfere with the production of red blood cells.Who can have a bone marrow transplant?
Stem cell transplants are normally only recommended if:
- the recipient of the transplant is in relatively good health, despite their associated condition (which is why stem cell transplants are often done when cancer is in remission)
- stem cells are available from a brother or sister with the same tissue type, which reduces the chances of the transplant being rejected or graft versus host disease
- the associated condition is not responding to other forms of treatment or it is felt that there is a high risk of the condition returning without a transplant
- it is felt that the benefits of a transplant outweigh the risks
Over the years, thousands of patients diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, myelodysplasia, multiple myeloma and other blood cancers or disorders have come to the Group Florence Nightingale for many reasons— including that this is one of the most experienced transplant center in the world and our doctors can offer you access to the latest transplant research and techniques.