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Bone Marrow Transplant

Underlying Problem Requiring a Bone Marrow Transplant:
A bone marrow transplant is also referred to as a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). This procedure is used as a treatment for both multiple myeloma and leukemia when chemotherapy will not be successful. It can also be used to treat severe combined immunodeficiency and congenital neutropenia in children and for aplastic anemia, sickle-cell disease, lymphoma, Ewing\'s Sarcoma, Hodgkin\'s disease, and a number of other conditions in people of all ages.

Treatment:
A bone marrow transplant requires as close of a match as possible to avoid \"graft-versus-host-disease\". The donated marrow is referred to as a graft. About 35 percent of the time, a patient will have a sibling who is a perfect match for the transplant. If this is not the case, then there are international bone marrow registries that can be used to look for a match. When using a graft from a donor, it is called \"allogenic\" bone marrow transplant. Sometimes the marrow is transplanted from one part of a patient\'s body to another. In this case it is a \"autologous\" bone marrow transplant.

The bone marrow harvest requires the donor-whether the recipient or not- to undergo a procedure. This is usually done under a general anesthetic. A needle is used to collect marrow from the rear hip bone from an area known as the \"iliac crest\". This will likely required multiple punctures in order to extract enough marrow.

The recipient of the bone marrow transplant will undergo chemotherapy or radiation for several days before the procedure in order to kill his or her own marrow and destroy any cancer cells residing there. The patient will likely have a catheter inserted into the chest to allow for the administration of drugs and the collection of blood samples. When the bone marrow transplant takes place, it will be infused through an IV, not as a surgery as is commonly believed.

Recovery from a Bone Marrow Transplant:
Within the next two to four weeks the patient will have a very compromised immune system. He or she will need to remain in the hospital receiving antibiotics, blood transfusions, and other medications while the marrow makes its way into the cavities of the bones. This is called \"engraftment,\" and during this time, the patient may be somewhat quarantined, with visitors and medical staff wearing gloves and masks to minimize the risk of infection. Because a bone marrow transplant is so physically and psychologically exhausting, patients and their families may be encouraged to seek counseling.

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