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A bone marrow transplant, which is now known as haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, is a procedure that aims to replace diseased bone marrow stem cells with healthy ones from a donor. The donor may be the actual patient themselves (autologous or autogenic transplant) or someone else (allogeneic transplant).

What can cause someone to need a bone marrow transplant? Pathologies such as leukaemia, lymphoma or immunodeficiency diseases can affect the bone marrow. For many patients a transplant is the only curative treatment which is why global transplant activity continues to grow.

Bone Narrow Transplant explained in first person

Professionals and patients explain how you live with the disease
You should be very optimistic and very patient, because it is a long process. You must look to the positive, seek support from those around you, family, friends, hospital staff, because they will all help.
I was well aware of the fact that they were giving me a second chance.

Diseases that require a Bone Marrow Transplant

Diseases that may need a bone marrow transplant are those which derive from bone marrow cells (blood disorders or haematological malignancies), e.g., leukaemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, etc. Although less common, a BMT may be indicated for certain autoimmune diseases, such as systemic sclerosis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.

Not all haematological malignancies require a bone marrow transplant and so it is the haematologist who will select and then carry out this type of treatment.

Types of Bone Marrow Transplant

Venous line patient receiving a bone marrow transplant

Autologous transplants. This type of transplant involves collecting the patient’s own stem cells. Autologous transplants are generally indicated in patients with lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

Blood transfusion or allogeneic transplant from a matched or related donor to a patient

Allogeneic transplants. The stem cells are collected from a healthy, compatible donor in allogeneic transplants. When the donor is one of the patient’s relatives then they are known as a related donor. It is usually a sibling or parent who tends to be 100% compatible. Not all siblings are compatible; in fact the probability of compatibility between siblings is 25% (1 in 4). 

If a patient does not have a compatible sibling, then their medical team will start searching for an unrelated donor in the various international registries. These donors are called unrelated donors. The likelihood of finding a compatible donor in the registries varies from patient to patient. 

Substantiated information by:

Ariadna Domenech Bachiller
Carla Ramos Serrano
Gonzalo Gutierrez Garcia

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018


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