Blood and Marrow Transplantation

A blood or marrow transplant (BMT) is a procedure that replaces unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy ones. Immature cells that develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are known as blood-forming cells (blood stem cells).

They are found in bone marrow, a soft tissue inside your bones. They leave the marrow when they reach maturity and enter the bloodstream. To destroy the diseased cells and marrow prior to transplant, you receive chemotherapy (chemo) and sometimes radiation. Then you receive the healthy cells.

BMT is not a surgical procedure. The new cells are injected into your bloodstream via an intravenous (IV) catheter or tube. It’s the same as receiving blood or medicine through an IV. The cells then make their way into your bone marrow. Recovery from BMT can take months or years.

Autologous transplant: The stem cells used in an autologous transplant are derived from your own body. Cancer is occasionally treated with high-dose, intensive chemotherapy or radiation therapy. This type of treatment can harm your stem cells and immune system. That is why, before beginning cancer treatment, doctors remove or rescue your stem cells from your blood or bone marrow. Following chemotherapy, your body’s stem cells are returned to you, restoring your immune system as well as your body’s ability to produce blood cells and fight infection. This process is also called an AUTO transplant or stem cell rescue.

Transplantation Allogenic: The stem cells for an allogenic transplant are obtained from another person, known as a donor. The patient receives the donor’s stem cells after undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. This is also referred to as an ALLO transplant.

Many people experience a “graft-versus-cancer cell effect” after an ALLO transplant. This is when the new stem cells recognize and destroy cancer cells that are still present in the body. This is the primary mechanism by which ALLO transplants work to treat cancer.

Other names for BMT:

  • Allo (allogeneic) transplant
  • Auto (autologous) transplant
  • BMT – bone marrow transplant
  • Haplo – haploidentical, or half-matched, transplant
  • HCT – hematopoietic cell transplantSCT – stem cell transplant

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