Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplants
Bone marrow is a spongy tissue, responsible for the body's generation of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. It is instrumental in a patients' recovery from chemotherapy and radiation treatments which can be very damaging. During the last five to ten years, stem cells for transplantation are being obtained increasingly from the blood stream instead of from the bone marrow. A blood and marrow stem cell transplant is a procedure that replaces a person's faulty stem cells with healthy ones. Stem cells are found in bone marrow, a spongy tissue inside the bones.
Stem cells develop into the three types of blood cells that the body needs:
- Red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body
- White blood cells, which fight infections
- Platelets, which help the blood clot
Physicians at Indiana Blood & Marrow Transplantation must reach the consensus that bone marrow transplant is the appropriate course of action. Each patient is evaluated based on general physical condition, disease process, age, co-morbid conditions, and prognostic indicators. Patients participate in Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved treatment protocols. Doctors use stem cell transplants to treat people who have: Certain cancers, such as leukemia. The high doses of chemotherapy and radiation used to treat some cancers can severely damage or destroy bone marrow. Severe blood diseases, such as thalassemias, aplastic anemia and sickle cell anemia. In these diseases, the body doesn't make enough red blood cells, or they don't work well. Certain immune-deficiency diseases that prevent the body from making some types of white blood cells.
IBMT considers the following conditions treatable and/or curable with bone marrow transplantation:
Types of stem cell transplants
The two main types of stem cell transplants are autologous (aw-TOL-o-gus) and allogenic (a-LO-jen-ik). For an autologous stem cell transplant, your own stem cells are collected and stored for use later on. This works best when you still have enough healthy stem cells, even though you're sick. If you have cancer, the cancer cells are removed or destroyed from the collected cells. For an allogenic stem cell transplant, you get stem cells from a donor. The donor can be a relative (like a brother or sister) or a person who is not related to you.