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Stem Cell / Bone Marrow Donation

Bone marrow donation for cancer treatment

Any healthy adult (who is free from any sort of blood disorders) between the age of 18 and 55 can donate stem cells from his/her blood. The stem cell / bone marrow donation process is hassle free and does not have any adverse effect on the donor’s life. Even now, people are not much aware of this fact which refrains them donating stem cell or bone marrow which can save many lives struggling with deadliest medical problems.

What is stem cell donation?

Stem cells can grow into any other cell in the body hence they are used to address and treat various health disorders. Many cancerous and non-cancerous blood disorders are treated successfully with stem cell (bone marrow) transplants. Different health problems that require transplant involve stem cell or bone marrow donations from family members such as siblings or donors with a matching tissue type.

We need to create awareness for the stem cell donation!

Sometimes, prior to the stem cell donation, doctors give recommended drugs by injection (shot) to increase more red blood cells production in the body. Depending upon the requirement, these shots can be given regularly for a few days to make the whole process successful. Thereafter these cells are then released from the bone marrow into the bloodstream.

Collecting or harvesting stem cells from a person’s bloodstream is called apheresis. When someone donates stem cells, body has an automatic system to reproduce these cells within 4 to 6 weeks. If blood is taken from the donor before the marrow donation, it’s often infused back in his/her body.

Types of Stem Cell Donor

There are several steps in the peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) or bone marrow donation process. The steps are in place to ensure that the donor is the best match for the patient and that the donor is medically able to donate. These steps can take 20 to 30 hours, spread out over a four-to-six-week period.

Depending upon relationship to patient and degree of HLA match, there can be different donor types

  • Fully HLA matched related (family) donor
  • Fully HLA matched unrelated donor
  • Half match related donor (Haplo-identical donor)

Process of Stem Cell Donation

The same blood-forming cells that are found in bone marrow are also found in the circulating (peripheral) blood. PBSC donation is a nonsurgical procedure, called apheresis. The donation takes place at an experienced blood centre or outpatient hospital facility.

Blood is taken from the donor's arm with a needle, and flows into a centrifuge. This device filters out the stem cells, and the remaining blood is injected back into the donor with the same needle. Like bone marrow donation, the procedure takes place at the hospital or day clinic.

Types of Bone Marrow Transplant

In today’s time bone marrow transplant has emerged as the most sought after treatment for many serious diseases. Large numbers of patients are treated with two different transplant procedures and are being increased day by day.

There are two major types of bone marrow transplants. The doctor determines which kind of transplant is most suitable for the patient as per his/her health condition or disease.

1) Autologous Transplant

Autologous transplant involve the use of a person’s own Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSC). It is usually done for multiple Myeloma, Relapsed Hodgkin and Non Hodgkin Lymphoma and T Lymphoma.

This transplant is only possible when the patient has his/her own healthy stem cells. Autologous transplants evade the risk of severe risk of Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD).

This procedure includes collection and storage of a patient’s own healthy HSCs and then a very high dose of Chemotherapy or radiotherapy is given to eradicate existing disease followed by re-infusion of collected stem cells to re-establish blood formation.

2) Allogeneic Transplant

Allogeneic transplant involve the use of healthy HSCs from a donor. Often, a close relative with perfect HLA (Tissue antigens) match is the best choice. However genetic matches can also be found from an unknown donor also. Syngeneic transplant refer the use of cells provided by an identical twin.

Allogeneic transplant becomes essential when a patient is suffering from a disease where all of his/her cells have been destroyed completely. As the risk of Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) is involved in allogeneic transplant, sometimes medications are given to suppress the immune system so that patient’s own cells do not attack the new cells. This procedure is called a myeloablative transplant.

If a patient receives less intensive dosages of chemotherapy and/or radiation, the procedure is called a reduced intensity or non-myeloablative transplant.

The success of an allogeneic transplant depends on how closely the donor cells matches with the patient’s own HSC.



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