A stem cell transplant also known as bone marrow transplant is a procedure which involves infusion of stem cells (healthy cells) in your body to remove diseased or damaged bone marrow. Stem cell transplant may use your body cells (autologous transplant) or from a donor (allogeneic transplant).
This procedure may help you to –• Provide new stem cells that can in turn help destroy cancer cells directly.• Safely allow treatment of your problem with radiation or heavy doses of chemotherapy.Moreover, stem cell transplant procedure helps treat various cancerous (malignant) and noncancerous (nonmalignant) diseases consisting of –• Aplastic anemia• Severe leukemia• Chronic leukemia• Bone marrow failure syndromes• Plasma cell disorders• Immune deficiencies• Primary amyloidosis• Multiple myeloma• POEMS syndrome• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
In order to ensure that you’re physically sound for the transplant, the doctor will perform a series of tests which may take a few days. He/she may also insert a long thin tube through your neck or chest into a large vein. Your doctor will use this tube to infuse the transplanted stem cells, including other blood products and medicines into your body. After the completion of all the pre-transplant procedures and tests, next will be the conditioning process. During this process, you will undergo radiation and chemotherapy to –• Prepare the bone marrow for the new stem cells• Remove cancerous cells • Curb your immune system You may undergo both radiation and chemotherapy or any one of these depending upon the condition you’re being treated for. Ill effects of the conditioning process can be –• Infection• Bleeding• Hair Loss• Diarrhea• Nausea or vomiting• Cataracts• Fatigue• Ulcers• Infertility
After conditioning, the stem cell transplant surgery can take place. You will remain awake during the procedure and stem cells will be infused in your body through the long thin tube. The process doesn’t involve any pain. Once the transplanted cells enter your bone marrow, they will start producing new blood cells to recover the blood count which is known as engraftment. The blood cells contain a preservative known as dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) to guard the cells. Just before the procedure, the doctor may give you medications to reduce the ill effects of the preservatives. The ill effects of DMSO may be – • Fever• Nausea• Hives• Chills• Diarrhea• Red urine
After the procedure, your doctor will keep you under close medical attention. In case, there is any complication or risk of infection, your doctor may ask you to stay in the hospital for a longer period of time.
Risk And Complications
• Infections• Graft-versus-host-disease, i.e. when the new stem cells that form a new immune system consider your body’s organs and tissues as foreign and may come under attack• New cancers• Infertility• Death• Stem cell failure