A bone marrow transplant (BMT) is a procedure that infuses healthy blood-forming stem cells into your body to treat broken or diseased bone marrow. BMT is also called a stem cell transplant (SCT). Contrary to popular belief, stem cell transplant is not a surgical procedure. It is a medical procedure with no harm to the donor. A stem cell transplant is a procedure needed to treat some types of cancers like leukemias, multiple myeloma, lymphomas, and various haematological disorders like aplastic anaemia, thalassemia etc. In the past, SCT was more commonly referred to as a bone marrow transplant because stem cells were harvested from bone marrow directly. Today, due to the techniques available to mobilise stem cells from bone marrow to blood, stem cells can be harvested from the blood, in preference over bone marrow. For this reason, the procedure now is more often referred to as a “peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT).” Stem cell donation is done like blood donation at a blood bank.
Today, due to the techniques available to mobilise stem cells from bone marrow to blood, stem cells can be harvested from the blood, in preference over bone marrow. For this reason, the procedure now is more often referred to as a “peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT).” Stem cell donation is done like blood donation at a blood bank. SCT may either use cells from your own body (autologous SCT) or from a donor (allogeneic SCT).
Bone marrow contains stem cells; and in healthy individuals, stem cells within the marrow form different components of blood. Namely
Red blood cells that supply the body with oxygen
White blood cells, which help build immunity of the body and help fight off harmful infections.
Platelets which help with blood clotting.
Who may require SCT
People with any of the following conditions may require bone marrow transplant:
If an existing medical condition is preventing the body from making new healthy blood cells; the person in question may need to go in for a bone marrow transplant.
The presence of blood cancers (of various kinds) including acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) or acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), which is more common in relapsed cases.
Some forms of cancer in the lymph nodes, particularly relapsed Lymphomas.
Genetic diseases like sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia, where the body produces faulty red blood cells.
Bone marrow diseases such as aplastic anaemia where the bone marrow is unable to produce any blood cells at all.
Paediatric cancers, namely Neuroblastoma, Medullablastoma, Primitive Neuroectodermal tumor (PNET)
Rare conditions such as Primary Immunodeficiency disorders, Storage disorders, Osteoporosis
The very first allogeneic transplantation was performed by E. Donnall Thomas in 1957, and since 1957, the field has evolved greatly with the development of new technologies along with ever advancing research and breakthroughs. These new developments have have afforded higher success and reduced complications significantly when compared to the past.
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