Bone Marrow Transplant
Bone marrow is the soft, sponge-like material found inside bones. It contains immature cells known as hematopoietic or blood-forming stem cells.
In patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia, and some immune deficiency diseases, the stem cells in the bone marrow malfunction, producing an excessive number of defective or immature blood cells or low blood cell counts. The immature or defective blood cells interfere with the production of normal blood cells, accumulate in the bloodstream and may invade other tissues.
Large doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation are required to destroy the abnormal stem cells and abnormal blood cells. These therapies, however, not only kill the abnormal cells but can destroy normal cells and healthy bone marrow found in the bone marrow as well.
A bone marrow transplant enables physicians to treat these diseases with aggressive chemotherapy and/or radiation by allowing replacement of the diseased or damaged bone marrow after the chemotherapy/radiation treatment.
There are three types of transplants:
In autologous transplants, patients receive their own stem cells.
In syngeneic transplants, patients receive stem cells from their identical twin.
In allogeneic transplants, patients receive stem cells from their brother, sister or parent. A person who is not related to the patient (an unrelated donor) may also be used.
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