Welcome back to Your Health 101. Inspired by our Cardiac Care 101 series of educational posts about heart disease, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, this series expands our clinical scope to address all kinds of medical conditions. Our current focus is on bone marrow transplant (BMT), a specialized treatment which Agile has deep experience managing for our patients. Last time, we discussed how healthy bone marrow is donated; today, we’ll talk about different ways of performing BMT.
There are two types of bone marrow transplant. They are differentiated by who is donating the bone marrow, or stem cells, to be transplanted. Let’s look at them each in turn.
In this type of BMT, healthy stem cells from the patient’s own body are used, and a donor is not required. The stem cells used in the transplant are removed from the patient and stored in a freezer. The patient then receives high-dose chemotherapy in order to kill the maximum number of cancer cells prior to transplant. Some normal cells may also be partially or completely killed during this intense chemotherapy. The harvested stem cells are then reintroduced back into the bloodstream, where they replace the destroyed tissues and help resume normal blood cell production. Following an autologous BMT, there is a lower risk of infection, a faster recovery of immunity, and reduced or no rejection of transplanted cells.
Image credit: Angeles Health International
In this type of BMT, the bone marrow is donated by a healthy, human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched donor. A completely HLA-matched donor is usually a sibling, and the first choice of a donor. However, for patients without a sibling able to donate, it is possible to locate an HLA-matched but unrelated donor through international donor registries. This is not the preferred method, though, as the search for an unrelated matched donor may take four to six months, and successful matches are even more challenging to find for patients of minority races and ethnicities.
Another option is to work with a partially-matched donor, which is commonly a parent. This kind of BMT is also known as haploidentical transplant. Finally, cord blood from a cord blood registry is a newer option for patients who cannot find a completely matched donor.
Image credit: Angeles Health Institute
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Agile Global Health (operating as A&K Global Health in select countries) is an Agile Health Systems company and a worldwide leader in realizing transparent, affordable, effective and innovative solutions to complex healthcare delivery challenges. We listen to local and national healthcare leaders in every country where we work, and then support their vision to improve their national health system’s accessibility, quality, and clinical outcomes. For patients, we connect you with the right care for your needs, from facilitating quality local and regional treatment to coordinating international medical travel; for healthcare funders and providers, we optimize your organizational impact by introducing transparency, control and customization to the medical, financial and experiential aspects of your clients’ medical journey. Contact us today to learn how we can support you.