All our blood cells like the RBCs (Red Blood Cells), WBCs (White Blood Cells), and the platelets are made by the bone marrow present in the core of our bones. All these cells play a different essential role and the absence or defect of any one of these can lead to serious problems in our body.
There are certain diseases that can damage our bone marrow. Temporary treatments do exist for these diseases but eventually, in such conditions, the definitive treatment is a bone marrow transplant.
In this article, we will discuss bone marrow transplants in detail with special emphasis on bone marrow transplants in India. What exactly is a bone marrow transplant, why is it required, and why India is a good choice to get a bone marrow transplant done are some of the questions that will be answered in this article.
Feel free to skip ahead if one topic catches your eye:
- What Is Bone Marrow Transplant?
- Who Needs a Bone marrow Transplant?
- Types of Bone Marrow Transplant
- How does it work?
- How to Prepare for a Bone Marrow Transplant?
- What to expect after the Transplant?
- What are the risks of Bone Marrow Transplant?
- Benefits of bone marrow transplants
- Why choose India for Bone Marrow Transplant?
- Cost of bone marrow transplants in India
What Is Bone Marrow Transplant?
Bone marrow is the spongy structure present inside our bones that is responsible for forming all the blood cells in our body. If your bone marrow starts dysfunctioning due to a variety of reasons, then you might require a bone marrow transplant.
A bone marrow transplant involves the replacement of diseased cells of the bone marrow by healthy cells. These healthy bone marrow cells can either come from the same person’s body or from a donor’s body, who is generally a close relative of the patient.
A bone marrow transplant is also known as a stem cell transplant because it works by replacing the stem cells in the bone marrow. The stem cells are the precursors of the blood cells in the body. As the blood cells mature, they leave the bone marrow to enter the blood circulation.
Who Needs a Bone marrow Transplant?
Bone marrow transplant is required by people who are suffering from diseases that affect the functioning of the bone marrow. These diseases can include infectious diseases, cancers, some genetic causes of bone marrow dysfunction, and even drugs that affect the bone marrow.
Given below is a brief list of causes that could require a person to have a bone marrow transplant:
- White Blood Cells cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.
- Aplastic anemia (a disorder where the bone marrow stops making new blood cells).
- Sickle cell anemia (a disorder where the bone marrow produces sickle-shaped RBCs that are easily broken and have a much shorter lifespan than normal RBCs causing anemia.)
- Thalassemia ( this is a disorder where the body forms an abnormal form of hemoglobin leading to decreased functional hemoglobin leading to anemia.)
- Multiple myeloma
- Congenital neutropenia (this disorder affects WBCs of the body and results in a decreased amount of WBCs which leads to recurrent infections in the patient.)
- Chemotherapy drugs: Drugs used to treat certain cancers can also affect the bone marrow and lead to its suppression.
Types of Bone Marrow Transplant
Based on the source of the new bone marrow, bone marrow transplant can be divided into 3 categories.
- Autologous bone marrow transplant
- Allogeneic bone marrow transplant
- Umbilical cord blood transplant
Autologous bone marrow transplant
This procedure is also known as a rescue transplant. The prefix ’auto-’ means self. During this procedure, some of the bone marrow cells are extracted from your body and preserved in the freezer for the future. Then your cancerous bone marrow is treated with chemotherapy and radiation. Once your chemotherapy and radiotherapy are completed, these preserved bone marrow cells are then transplanted into your body again.
Allogeneic bone marrow transplant
The prefix ‘Allo-’ means other. During this procedure, bone marrow from some other person’s body is extracted and transplanted into your body. The other person is known as the bone marrow donor. Usually, the donor is a close relative of the patient who has some matching genes as the patient. Siblings, parents, children are the most common donors in the decreasing order of the level of similarity in genes. Other donors can also be found through registries.
Umbilical cord blood transplant
In this procedure, stem cells are taken from the baby’s umbilical cord and are frozen for future requirements. These cells are arrested in the very early stages of development and hence require much less gene matching as compared to other techniques. This is a kind of allogeneic transplantation.
How does it work?
A bone marrow transplant is not a surgical procedure per se. Bone marrow cells can be collected in 2 ways. They can either be harvested or collected by a process called leukapheresis.
In this procedure, bone marrow cells are harvested either from you or your donor under general anesthesia. A long needle is inserted into your hip bone and the bone marrow is collected via this needle.
During this procedure, your donor is given medicines that help the stem cells move from the bone marrow into the bloodstream. The blood is then collected and passed through machines that separate the stem cells from other blood cells.
The collection of stem cells from the donor is done 1-2 days prior to the bone marrow transplant. During the actual transplant, access is created in the upper right portion of your chest and the fluid containing stem cells is passed directly into your heart. The stem cells are then distributed throughout your body. Then they enter the bone marrow and start developing there.
You will also be given other medications, nutrients, blood transfusion, etc via the access point in your chest.
How to Prepare for a Bone Marrow Transplant?
A bone marrow transplant is a very major procedure for the patient and their families. You should be fully prepared, both physically and mentally, before you go in for the procedure. This requires you to have a transparent relationship with our doctor in India, and you should be able to ask him/her every minor question that you might have regarding the procedure.
Your doctor will take care of all the technical aspects of the procedure and will also guide you through it.
Ask about the various risks and benefits of the procedure, any possible complications, queries regarding your stay in the hospital, etc. These queries might include things like the visiting hours of relatives, how many people of your family would be allowed in the hospital to make your stay more comfortable, whether you will be allowed to wear your own clothes, recovery period, etc. Do not hesitate to ask even the smallest query you might have about the procedure.
You will also need all the emotional support that your family can give you. So, keep talking to your family about all the apprehensions you might have and let them be there for you during the whole process.
What to expect after the Transplant?
After the bone marrow transplant, you will be kept under medical supervision for some days to watch out for complications like infections. After the transplant, the stem cells go into the bone marrow from the blood and start producing new cells. This process may take up to several weeks or even more.
During this time, you will go through blood tests that will track the progress of the transplant. The return to normal cell counts can take several weeks. Till that time, you will also undergo blood transfusions with RBCs, WBCs, and platelets to maintain a normal level of these cells in the body till the body starts producing its own blood cells.
You will have to stay near the hospital for some weeks to months for your proper testing and care. You will be given medications, nutrients, etc. Even after the recovery period, you will have to undergo periodic tests to ensure the working of the procedure and the status of your disease.
What are the risks of Bone Marrow Transplant?
A bone marrow transplant is not a minor procedure and poses several serious risks. Some of these possible complications of a bone marrow transplant are listed below:
- Stem cell failure
- Graft vs Host reaction
- Early menopause
- Other types of cancers
- Lung or bone damage
- Thyroid problems
- Possibility of death
Your doctor will explain all these risks in great detail before you go in for the procedure. You, along with your family, have to weigh all these risks against the benefits of a bone marrow transplant and then take the decision of getting it or not.
All these risks can be minimized by getting the procedure done from a good hospital that has skilled and experienced doctors who know how to handle these complications. India is one of the best countries to get a bone marrow transplant. Indian doctors, along with their teams, have the expertise to perform a bone marrow transplant with extreme care.
Benefits of bone marrow transplants
The diseases that require a bone marrow transplant are often fatal if not treated properly. These diseases do have temporary solutions like medications, blood transfusions, etc, but all these options also have serious long-term side effects on the body. And the patients will require these throughout their lives.
Bone marrow transplant is a definitive treatment and will not only possibly save their lives but also enable them to have a good quality of life despite their illnesses.
The transplants also reduce the use of the harmful chemotherapy or the radiotherapy that is required for the treatment of various cancers. It also provides the patients with new stem cells that can kill the cancer cells directly without requiring high doses of these harmful therapies.
Why choose India for Bone Marrow Transplant?
India is a nation of highly educated and skilled doctors that can perform procedures like bone marrow transplants with a lot of expertise. India also has one of the best hospitality and infrastructure in the entire world that will ensure you world-class facilities for your treatment.
The hospitals in India use the most advanced and minimally invasive technologies to detect cancers. Bone marrow transplants performed in India have the highest success rates and the best outcomes. People who get their transplants here have much more improved life expectancies.
India is also a better choice as compared to other countries as here you will face no language barrier because all the doctors and their teams are well versed in English and can communicate effectively with the patient and their families. This ensures better doctor-patient transparency.
One added benefit in choosing India is the ease of getting a medical visa. We, at Medinirvana, provide you with the medical visa and all the necessary documents with ease. We also guarantee total privacy to the patient and are bound under doctor-patient confidentiality so none of your information can be divulged by us.
We will arrange everything for you so you don’t have to worry about all these formalities and can focus only on your treatment and betterment.
Cost of bone marrow transplants in India
The cost of a bone marrow transplant can depend on various factors like:
- The hospital
- The doctors conducting the procedure
- The city where the procedure is being done
- The kind of bone marrow transplant that is being done (autologous or allogeneic)
- Recovery period
- hospital stay, etc.
In India, you will get the best treatment for the most affordable costs.
The average costs for a bone marrow transplant in India can range anywhere between INR 15,00,000 to INR 35,00,000. This will depend on the above-mentioned factors.
This is all you need to know about bone marrow transplants In India. Medinirvana will ensure that you have a comfortable time through all these technical procedures and get the best treatment that you deserve.
For further information, contact Medinirvana who will be able to guide you further.