Bone marrow transplants continue to be among the most common organ transplants performed today. Since the 1960s, bone marrow transplants have commonly been associated with treatment for leukemia, but they're also extremely effective in treating a number of other medical conditions including anemia, immune deficiencies, and cancer.
The main problem is the people needing bone marrow transplants continue to outnumber donor availability. Bone marrow donor registries look for donors who most closely match a patient's tissue type, especially for human leukocyte antigen or HLA tissues. These tissues are specific markers or proteins found in human cells. The closer the HLA match between donor and recipient, the less likelihood of rejection of those transplanted bone marrow tissues by the recipient.
In the U.S. alone, only 1 in every 540 donors are determined to be a match to a specific patient, following analysis on vast computer networks. Many people hesitate to donate bone marrow because they believe the process is painful. In the past, bone marrow was collected in a type of surgery, but today, bone marrow is often collected through blood stem cells directly from your blood. This type of donation is called peripheral blood stem cell donation or PBSC.
A bone marrow transplant or donation may be required for an individual diagnosed with numerous types of life-threatening diseases. Those conditions and/or diseases include but are not limited to:
anemia (including sickle cell)
certain types of tumors (including brain)
cancers (including kidney cancer)
Two types of bone marrow transplants are commonly utilized today, including autologous and allergenic bone marrow transplants.
An autologous bone marrow transplant procedure defines bone marrow stem cells taken from a patient either through harvesting of bone marrow or apheresis. This is achieved by utilizing medical equipment that literally siphons whole blood from the patient, separates certain components from it, and then returns the ‘cleaned’ blood back to the donor. This blood, which defines the process of peripheral blood stem cell collection, is saved for the transplant. Those blood stem cells are then re-injected back into the patient.
Allogeneic bone marrow transplant defines bone marrow or stem cells provided by a donor - usually a close relative such as a parent or a sibling. Allogeneic bone marrow transplants are performed similar to the autologous procedure, through apheresis or bone marrow harvesting, just from a different individual.
Unrelated bone marrow donors or transplants also utilized through donor registries found throughout the world. National bone marrow registries do their best to match certain markers in a donor’s blood to those of the patient in order to reduce chances of rejection of the transplanted bone marrow materials.
Unfortunately, in the United States, the donor waiting list for bone marrow transplant procedures is very long - and donor searches are extremely expensive. The waiting list for bone marrow transplants in the United States can range from several months to several years, with the average weight approximately two years.
This wait time is determined by numerous factors including the number of donors to recipients in a specific community, antibody levels of the donors (the higher antibody levels in the donor sample, the more difficult it is to match with the recipient). Blood type is also a major factor, with blood group O the most desired because such individuals are classified as "universal donors" and can donate their blood containing bone marrow stem cells to any patient regardless of their blood type.
The process is complicated, and not only deals with blood typing but also tissue typing, cross matching, and must take into consideration the recipient’s condition and immune system status. At any given time, approximately 10,000 children and adults are on waiting lists for bone marrow donations in the United States alone.
Manipal Hospital, located in Bangalore, India, an ISO/NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers) certified facility, treats approximately 4,000 international patients annually, many of those arriving for bone marrow transplant procedures. The availability of accessing bone marrow transplant procedures in India drastically cuts down the backlog of patients waiting on donor lists in the U.S. and Canada, offering the same type of transplant procedures as offered by major U.S. and Canadian hospitals.
Because of the different health care delivery system, and not due to lack of training, experience, or technologies, India and other locations throughout the globe are able to provide highly qualified, experienced and knowledgeable transplant services to international patients, not only decreasing wait times, but also often saving those patients tens of thousands of dollars in the process.
Manipal Hospitals provides bone marrow transplant procedure ‘packages’ from start to finish that estimate a one-month hospital stay, with an expected three month recovery process and follow-ups following discharge from the hospital.
Reducing wait time for bone marrow transplant isn't the only consideration for patients seeking bone marrow transplants. Cost is also a major issue, especially for those without insurance. Costs for bone marrow transplant procedures at Manipal Hospital, including doctor and hospital fees, medicines, lab work, room and board, donor matching, bone marrow transplant procedures and/or surgeries as well as anesthesia, costs approximately $35,000. In the United States, the cost of a bone marrow transplant, including all of the above factors average is $400,000, which also includes costs of the donor search, infusions, doctor and hospital fees, and so forth.
PlacidWay, an international and growing medical service and provider based in the United States, is focused on increasing availability, accessibility, and affordability to individuals seeking timely, effective, and affordable healthcare services. With contacts in dozens of countries around the world, including India, PlacidWay focuses on providing domestic and international patients with options regarding their own health care choices and decisions.
For more information about Bone Marrow Transplant call us at +1.303.317.3607 or visit PlacidWay, a leading US-based medical tourism resource and provider.