A bone marrow transplant is considered to be a type of organ transplant. The blood is a major component of the body and body functions and without it, no one can survive. Bone marrow transplants are common procedures for the treatment of a multitude of illnesses and disease processes. Bone marrow is found inside the bones and is the origination of stem cells that create red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells carry oxygen to every cell and tissue in the human body, while white blood cells are in charge of fighting infections and disease. Platelets are essential in the formation of blood clots, which help to slow and reduce bleeding.
There are three basic types of bone marrow transplants:
Autologous bone marrow transplant
Allergenic bone marrow transplant
Umbilical cord blood transplant
A bone marrow transplant enables an individual to receive healthy stem cells in the event that a person's own bone marrow has been compromised or destroyed, as is the case with many diseases and cancers such as leukemia.
An autologous bone marrow transplant defines a procedure in which a patient's own cells or tissues are cultivated from the body prior to a procedure or surgery. In the case of a bone marrow transplant, a person's own bone morrow is cultivated from his or her body prior to chemotherapy or radiation treatments and then injected back into that patient's body following cancer treatments. This procedure is called a 'rescue' transplant.
An allergenic bone marrow transplant utilizes stem cells that come from someone else, also known as a donor. Donors who contribute bone marrow or blood must match genetic typing between patients, or the body will reject the contribution. Blood tests will determine whether or not donors are a good match for a recipient patient, but in most cases, siblings are the most common donors for any type of tissue or organ transplant success.
Umbilical cord blood transplants are becoming more popular as a result of extended research and development in stem cell technology. Umbilical cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord following the birth of an infant and does not harm either baby or mother. Taken from typically discarded after birth, umbilical cord blood contains stem cells that may be genetically tested and then frozen until needed for transplant. In most cases, this technology is best used for family members of a person needing a bone marrow transplant.
In the 'old days' individuals suffering from leukemia or other autoimmune disease processes were given bone marrow transplants, which can be an expensive and painful process. Today, bone marrow transplants are commonly achieved through stem cells cultivated from samples of bone marrow from an individual, and enjoys the added benefit of reduced chances of rejection or reactions between recipients and donors.
Bone marrow transplant procedures often take place in facilities that specialize in such treatments and may require an individual to stay in the hospital for several weeks during the healing process to reduce chances of infection, but depending on situation and whether or not the transplant is allergenic or autologous, the procedure may sometimes be completed on an outpatient basis.
Who Performs Bone Marrow Transplants?
Bone marrow transplants should be performed by oncologists or specialists in autologous or allergenic bone marrow transplant procedures. Oncologists join with a bone marrow transplant team, all of whom should be certified in their field in their country of origin. When searching for bone marrow transplant procedures, check to make sure facilities as well as staff are accredited and certified by international or country accrediting organizations, universities, and oncology and transplant boards and organizations.
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