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A bone marrow transplant is a procedure to replace destroyed or damaged stem cells with healthy stem cells either from your own body or from someone else’s body. Bone marrow is a soft, vicious fatty tissue at the center of your large bones such as the thigh bone and the hip bone. It is usually found in larger bones of the body. Bone marrow transplant is also known as a stem cell transplant. The main function of the bone marrow is to produce healthy stem cells needed to boost the immunity of the body. Blood cells are the immature cells in the bone marrow that gives rise to different types of stem cells. 

Before the transplant, your doctor may advise you for chemotherapy or radiation or both may be given.

 Transplant may be done in two ways:

  • Ablative treatment: 

Ablative or myeloablative treatment is high dose radiation and chemotherapy or both together may be given to kill cancerous cells in the body. This also kills healthy cells that remain in the body, allowing new stem cells to grow in the bone marrow.

  • Reduced-intensity treatment:

This is also known as a mini transplant. Before the transplant, lower doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is given. This allows older people as well as people with other health problems to have transplants.

AIIMS in New Delhi is the best hospital for bone marrow transplant in India

Types of bone marrow transplant-

There are three kinds of bone marrow transplant: 

  • Autologous bone marrow transplant:

The word “auto” refers to self. Before receiving a high dose of radiation or chemotherapy treatment, stem cells are removed from your body and stored in the freezer. After the high-dose of radiation and chemotherapy, your stem cells are put back in your body to produce normal healthy stem cells. This is known as a rescue transplant. 

  • Allogeneic bone marrow transplant: 

The word “allo” refers to others. Stem cells are removed from another person called a donor. Most of the time, the genes of another donor must partly match your genes. Special tests are conducted to check if the donor’s genes are a good match for you. A sibling is a good match for you. At times, relatives, parents, and children can also be a good match for you. Donors who are not related to you yet can be a good match found through national bone marrow registries. 

  • Umbilical cord blood transplant: 

This is a type of allogeneic transplant. Right after the birth of a newborn, stem cells are removed from the baby’s umbilical cord. The baby’s stem cells are frozen and stored until they are needed for transplant. Umbilical cords are immature so they are very unlikely to match with someone else. Due to the small number of stem cells, blood count takes much longer to recover. 

  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplant: 

This type of transplantation involves the intravenous infusion of allogenic and autogenic transplants for treating hematopoietic function in patients. 

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A bone marrow transplant is usually done after chemotherapy and radiation therapy is complete. The stem cells are delivered into your bloodstream through a tube called a central venous catheter. This process is similar to blood transfusion. The stem cells flow with blood into the bone marrow. Most of the time, no surgery is needed. 

Donor’s stem cells can be collected in two ways: 

  • Bone marrow harvest: 

This is a minor surgery done under general anesthesia. It is a pain-free procedure where the donor is fast asleep. The bone marrow is removed from the back of the hip bone of the donor. The amount of bone marrow removed depends on the weight of the person receiving it.

  • Leukapheresis: 

Here, the donor is given several shots to help stem cells move from the bone marrow into the blood. The blood is removed from the donor through an IV line. The part of white blood cells is separated in a machine to be removed to give the receipt at a later stage. The red blood cells are returned to the donor.

The success rate after the bone marrow transplant:

Functions of Bone Marrow

The life expectancy after the bone marrow transplant has considerably improved with more accurate genetic matching with donors, follow up transplantation with an antibiotic regimen to control infections, and improved post-transplant care. 

The overall survival rate is 80%. Meaning the patient can have a healthy life of up to 20 years. It is expected that  25% to 40% of patients would survive for 3-4 years with the age of 60 or above. The success rate after bone marrow transplant for patients with nonmalignant diseases has a much better success rate of 70% to 90% with a matched sibling donor and the success rate with unrelated donors is 36% to 65%. 

The survival rate after transplant for patients with acute leukemia in remission is 55% to 68% with related donors while with unrelated donors, the success rate is 26% to 50%. Transplants in younger patients have higher chances of survival rates. 

The life expectancy of a patient can vary from person to person. 

Gleneagles is yet another best hospital for bone marrow transplant in India. They have a team of specialists and doctors who are keen to provide the best medical treatment in India. They offer treatment at competitive prices. 

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