Bone Marrow Transplant
Alternate Names : BMT
Bone marrow is a spongy tissue found in the center of many bones in the
human body. The following bones contain either the red or yellow form of bone marrow:
vertebra of the spine
Blood cells are made in the bone marrow. Immature blood cells in the bone
marrow, called stem cells, divide and mature to form various types of mature blood cells.
red blood cells that carry oxygen
white blood cells that fight infection
platelets, which are cells that help blood to clot
Some diseases such as leukemia result in unhealthy bone marrow. When
this happens, the person may need to have a bone marrow transplant. During this
procedure, a doctor will take healthy stem cells from one person - the donor - and inject
them through a needle into the blood of a person who needs the transplant. The stem
cells travel through the blood into the person's bone marrow. Ideally, the stem cells
attach and make new blood cells, thus fixing the problem.
Who is a candidate for the procedure?
Conditions that depress the bone marrow and may require a bone marrow
transplant include the following:
a condition in which damaged or destroyed stem cells in the bone marrow limit
production of red blood cells
bone marrow depression, where the bone marrow has been damaged by treatments
such as chemotherapy
or radiation therapy
cancers, such as the blood cancers called leukemia
inherited blood disorders, such as thalassemia
some immunodeficiency disorders,
such as severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome, a rare inherited condition
How is the procedure performed?
Usually, bone marrow comes from a donor. The procedure is much more
likely to succeed when the donor's bone marrow closely matches that of the person it
is going to. Close relatives such as a sibling or parent are most likely to have matching
bone marrow. In some cases, the person may donate his or her own marrow before
treatment with chemotherapy
or radiation therapy.
Then the doctor transplants the person's own bone marrow back into him or her when it
Donating bone marrow is generally a painless procedure. A doctor will take
the bone marrow from the hipbone with a special needle. Most donors are able to go
home the same or the next day.
Receiving bone marrow can be more uncomfortable. A doctor will inject or
transfuse bone marrow into the person through an
called an IV. An IV is a tube inserted through the skin and into a vein, usually in the chest or neck.