A bone marrow transplant (BMT) is a special procedure performed to replace either the destroyed or damaged bone marrow with a healthy bone marrow. Bone marrow is soft and fatty tissue present inside the bone, which produces the blood cells.
BMT involves taking the cells usually found in the bone marrow and then giving them back to the patient or another person. BMT aims to transfuse the healthy bone marrow cells into a person after his own unhealthy bone marrow has been treated for killing the abnormal cells.
Various acute and chronic ailments may affect the functioning of the bone marrow and may require bone marrow transplants. Some of the similar conditions are listed below:
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There are 3 different types of bone marrow transplant:
Before undergoing this procedure, you may need to undergo rigorous evaluation, which includes:
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As with every surgery, the risk of complications is there and bone marrow transplant is no exception. However, it is not always necessary that a patient develops these complications, but it is good to be aware of it. Below are some of the common complications linked with bone marrow transplant:
If you have undergone an allogeneic transplant, then you are at higher risk of developing GVHD, which is more likely to occur if the cells have been taken from an unrelated donor. However, it may occur otherwise as well. The symptoms of GVHD may occur within the initial month or even after a longer duration of time. These may include:
The other complications may include:
The cells injected into the body enter your bone marrow and start multiplying. After that, if everything goes well, new blood cells production will begin. This whole process is called engraftment, and it may take two to three weeks.
The progress will be monitored through regular blood tests, and you may require an infusion of blood cells until your own bone marrow becomes functional. During this phase, you should be cautious enough to look out for any side effects like nausea, vomiting, infection, and contact your doctor in case of any such occurrences.
In case of no side effects or symptoms, you may be discharged from the hospital after a few days once your blood counts recover. However, you may be required to frequently visit the hospital for regular follow-ups. It is recommended that the patient and their family arrange for a stay near the hospital, as it may take about three months for the body to get accustomed to the cells and develop immunity.
Your health care team will design a program to monitor your long-term side effects, which may occur even months after the transplant process.
A bone marrow transplant can significantly improve the quality of life of the patients. However, there are certain practices and measures that you need to follow to live a normal life.
With progress in medicine, the life expectancy of patients undergoing bone marrow transplants is also improving. The success rates depend on many factors like underlying disease, source of cells and patient's general health condition. In comparison to the last decade, the life expectancy of patients has improved.
It is essential to learn about different transplant hospitals and centers before finalizing the one. Here are few things to keep in mind while choosing a transplant hospital/center:
Living with a disease that badly affects your life is an extremely painful experience both for the patient and his family. Getting a bone marrow transplant can certainly improve the quality of life of the patient. The aprroximate cost of bone marrow transplants in India varies between 12-15 lakh for an allogeneic transplant and 8-10 lakh for an autologous transplant approximately. It is essential to check with the insurance company whether the transplant cost is covered in your plan. Various factors that will affect the cost are:
A patient who travels away from home to hospitals for transplant also needs to keep the cost of stay near the hospital in the new city. The cost of staying also adds up over the course of a few months specially in an allogeneic transplant.