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What Is Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT)

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Bone marrow transplant (BMT) is a medical treatment that replaces your damaged stem cells with healthy cells. The procedure infuses healthy stem cells into your body and the replacement cells can either come from your own body, or from another person, called a donor. A bone marrow transplant is also known as a stem cell transplant or more specifically, a hematopoietic stem cell transplant.

What is a Bone Marrow?

Bone marrow produces 300 billion new blood cells every day. These blood cells mature from undeveloped cells called haematopoietic stem cells.

What is a Stem Cell?

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Stem cells develop into three main types of cells:

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients around your body.
  • White blood cells, which fight infections
  • Platelets, which help with blood clotting.

Types of Bone Marrow Transplant

The process of bone marrow transplantation may differ depending on the type of donor and transplant procedure used. In general, there are two types of transplant procedures:

  1. Autologous transplant – Stem cells are harvested from the patient’s own body. After treatment is done, the harvested stem cells are returned to patients via infusion same as blood transfusion.
  2.  Allogeneic transplant – Uses healthy blood stem cells from a donor. The stem cell donor may be a family member or any unrelated person that has a matched set of Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA).

The haematologist and the BMT nurse coordinator follows a step-by-step process to ensure your transplant goes smoothly.

Who Needs a Bone Marrow Transplant?

Some of these conditions are known to affect the blood cells and leads to the need of a bone marrow transplant:

  • Hodgkin & Non-Hodgkin LymphomaLymphoma (the cancer of the lymphatic system) originates from a specific type of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
  • Multiple Myeloma – A cancer of the plasma cells (white blood cells that make antibodies). The cells grow too much, crowding out other normal blood cells in the bone marrow.

Risk and Side Effects

Like any other medical procedure, BMT does pose numerous risks depending on the way your body reacts to the re-introduction of stem cells. The risks depend on various factors including the type of transplant, medical history, age and overall health.

Possible risks include:

  • Stem cell (graft) failure – Graft failure can lead to serious complication. It happened when the body rejecting the new graft or stem cells, and it does not go into the bone marrow and multiply like they should.
  • Organ damage – Conditioning chemotherapy, drugs during the preparation process, and radiation might affect your organs. However, in most cases the damage is temporary and possible to resolve.
  • Infections – You are vulnerable to infection during BMT procedure due to your immune system being weakened from the therapy.
  • Cataracts – Cataracts are another possible side effect from the procedure and can be fixed surgically in an outpatient setting.
  • Infertility – Conditioning chemotherapy could result in infertility.
  • New/Relapse cancers – Recurrences can happen a few months to a few years after transplant. Sometimes a second transplant is possible.

Our Specialists

Bone marrow transplant requires a dedicated team of physicians, registered nurses and support staff.

This service is led by an experienced team of consultant haematologists focused on providing individualized care and support:

Beacon Hospital’s BMT service covers bone marrow transplantation for adults. We are equipped with cutting-edge technology and a team of highly experienced, internationally trained specialists and nurses. Our multidisciplinary team collaborates seamlessly to ensure you receive exceptional care while your family receives the assistance they require.

Schedule an appointment today