Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation is a treatment that involves the intravenous infusion of hematopoietic stem cells to revive the production of blood cells in patients whose bone marrow is damaged or defective. Stem cells can be obtained from the blood, bone marrow, and umbilical blood of the patients or from a donor.
This treatment has been used to treat certain types of cancers such as myeloma, leukemia, and some immune system disorders.
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation is also known as bone marrow transplant.
Bone marrow is a soft tissue in the body that contains hematopoietic stem cells, and it is located in the center of most bones.
How Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Performed
There are two types of bone marrow transplant:
- The patient will receive stem cells for autologous transplant from their own body, and this process is also known as AUTO transplant.
- First, the patient will receive injections to increase their stem cells, and then stem cells are collected through a vein in their arm or chest.
- The patient receives a high dose of chemotherapy for 5 to 10 days.
- After that, the stem cells will be back in their bloodstream through the catheter.
- In this process, the donor supplies stem cells to the patient, and it is also known as an ALLO transplant.
- A healthcare team will collect cells from the donor's blood or bone marrow.
- If cells are collected from the bloodstream, the donor will receive daily injections to increase the white cells in their blood a few days before the collection.
- If cells are collected from the bone marrow, it will be through a procedure known as bone marrow harvest.
- The patient will require chemotherapy for 5 to 7 days to prepare their body for the donors cells.
- Once their body is prepared, a healthcare team will infuse the donor's stem cells into the patient's bloodstream with the help of a catheter.
Preparation for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
There are specific tests that need to be conducted before a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, such as a blood test, chest X-ray, bone marrow biopsy, heart tests, and PET scan.
Admission to the Hospital
The hospital's transplant team will decide if the patient needs to be hospitalized or if the procedure will be done in an outpatient center. If the patient has to be hospitalized, they will come in the day before the pre-transplant chemo treatment begins. The patient has to make sure that a close family member is with them all the time.
No fast food or food from restaurants is allowed before the procedure. The patient should eat fresh fruits and vegetables only, after rinsing them under clean running water.
Procedure of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
It is not a surgical procedure, and is similar to a blood transfusion.
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Follow Up
The recovery stage begins after the stem cell infusion. The patient has to stay in the hospital for a few weeks and allow the stem cells to settle in the bone marrow. The patients should avoid strenuous exercise and give the new cells time to implant themselves in the healing tissues.
Risks of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
The stem cell transplant process does not end after the patient goes home, since there is a risk of infection. The patient will feel tired and will also be required to take a lot of medicines. It is essential to give them proper support for their speedy recovery.
Recovery for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
It takes a lot of time to recover from a bone marrow transplant. The patient might take 6-12 months to have a normal immune system. It is possible to develop an infection after the procedure, but the patient must get a long-term recovery plan from the doctor to avoid any complications.