Bone Marrow Transplant is a procedure where a person’s damaged or destroyed bone marrow is replaced with healthy bone marrow stem cells.
Bone marrow transplant is mainly applicable for treating certain kinds of cancer and has been in practice for more than 50 years. Bone marrow transplants are also applicable in non-cancer conditions such as auto-immune disease (such as Multiple Sclerosis) and genetic disorders (such as beta-thalassemia).
There are two kinds of bone marrow transplants. Autologous and Allogeneic.
The autologous procedure is also called Bone Marrow Rescue. It is applicable when the patient’s bone marrow is not affected by the disease. Firstly, the patient’s own bone marrow is drawn out and saved. Then, high doses of chemotherapy are given, which kills the cancer but also severely affects the bone marrow. The saved bone marrow is then infused back into the patient. This rescues the patient’s bone marrow while getting rid of the cancer. Bone marrow rescue can also be used in auto-immune disease, where high doses of chemotherapy are given to kill immune cells that are self-reactive (which means they are attacking the patient’s own body).
In allogeneic procedure, patient is treated with high doses of chemotherapy and then the bone marrow is replaced by healthy bone marrow obtained from a matching donor.