What started as fatigue and pneumonia ends successfully with a bone marrow transplant.
How the Bone Marrow Functions
Bone marrow is the soft, spongy center of your bone where blood is produced. Marrow is filled with blood-producing cells, called stem cells, which develop into mature white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets.
White blood cells of various kinds make up part of your immune system for fighting infections.
Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body.
Platelets clot your blood to prevent bleeding. Stem cells are constantly being produced by your bone marrow, and will develop into the types of cells your body needs.
Types of Bone Marrow Transplants
Most people who need to undergo a blood or marrow transplant have cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma. There are different types of blood or marrow transplants. The type and severity of your disease determine what type of transplant you will need.
An allogeneic transplant involves receiving donor bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. This transplant donor is genetically matched and can be related or unrelated to you. An autologous transplant involves receiving your own bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. A syngeneic transplant involves receiving your identical twin's bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells.
An allogeneic transplant involves receiving very high-doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, followed by the infusion of your donor's bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. The high-dose cancer fighting treatments are given to eliminate the cancer in your body. The infusion of the new marrow or peripheral blood stem cells during an allogeneic transplant replaces the bone marrow destroyed by the chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
You may be a potential candidate for an allogeneic bone marrow transplant if you have leukemia, aplastic anemia, myelodysplasia, myelofibrosis, high-grade lymphoma or other types of cancers.
A reduced-intensity allogeneic transplant involves receiving lower doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy followed by the infusion of your donor's bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. The objective of the transplant is to suppress your own bone marrow by receiving just enough chemotherapy and radiation therapy to allow your donor cells to engraft and grow within you. The hope is these donor cells will mount an immunologic attack against your underlying cancer, generating a response called the "graft-versus-leukemia" effect or “graftversus- cancer” effect.
An autologous transplant involves receiving very high-dose chemotherapy followed by the infusion of your previously-collected peripheral blood stem cells or bone marrow.
The high-dose chemotherapy treatments are given to eliminate the cancer in your body. The infusion of your new marrow through a bone marrow transplant or peripheral blood stem cells replaces the bone marrow destroyed by the chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
You may be a potential candidate for an autologous bone marrow transplant if you have lymphoma, multiple myeloma, amyloidosis, Hodgkin's disease, germ cell cancer, or certain types of leukemia.
Blood & Marrow Transplant as a Treatment Option
Before a blood or marrow transplant can be approved as a treatment option, you will have a pre-transplant evaluation. This evaluation includes a complete physical consultation with members of the Blood &Marrow Transplant Team and a comprehensive series of tests. An evaluation is done prior to a transplant and provides complete information about your overall health and helps determine if you are eligible for a transplant.
After your transplant physician has determined that you are a good candidate for a transplant, a date for the transplant will be determined and the process of insurance clearance will begin. Please understand that insurance reimbursement for bone marrow transplantation is not automatic.
If you are to be admitted to the hospital for your transplant, you can expect your stay to be about 3 to 4 weeks, depending on your recovery. During your recovery following transplant, you will learn about your new medications, how to recognize signs of complications and infections, and when you can return to your normal activities.
If an allogeneic or reduced-intensity transplant has been approved for you, you and your designated care-partner will be required to stay within a one-hour drive of Cleveland Clinic's main campus for approximately 100 days after your transplant. After you return home, you will still be closely monitored by your Transplant Team, returning to Cleveland Clinic for follow up appointments as indicated.
Follow-up care after your blood or marrow transplant includes appointments with your transplant physician and tests to assess how you are recovering. Although Clinic visits are frequent at first, they will gradually taper off as your condition improves.