Bone marrow transplant

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A bone marrow transplant is a procedure that infuses healthy blood-forming stem cells into your body to replace your damaged or diseased bone marrow. A bone marrow transplant is also called a stem cell transplant.

You might need a bone marrow transplant if your bone marrow stops working and does not produce enough healthy blood cells.

Bone marrow transplants may use cells from your own body (autologous transplant) or from a donor (allogeneic transplant).

A bone marrow transplant may be used to:

  • Safely allow treatment of your condition with high doses of chemotherapy or radiation by replacing or rescuing the bone marrow damaged by treatment

  • Replace diseased or damaged marrow with new stem cells

  • Provide new stem cells, which can help kill cancer cells directly

Bone marrow transplants can benefit people with a variety of both cancerous (malignant) and noncancerous (benign) diseases, including:

  • Acute leukemia

  • Adrenoleukodystrophy

  • Aplastic anemia

  • Bone marrow failure syndromes

  • Chronic leukemia

  • Hemoglobinopathies

  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Immune deficiencies

  • Inborn errors of metabolism

  • Multiple myeloma

  • Myelodysplastic syndromes

  • Neuroblastoma

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Plasma cell disorders

  • POEMS syndrome

  • Primary amyloidosis

  • A bone marrow transplan poses numerous risks. Some people experience minimal problems with a bone marrow transplan, while others can have serious complications that require treatment or hospitalization. Sometimes, complications are life-threatening.

    Your particular risks depend on many factors, including the disease or condition that caused you to need a transplant, the type of transplant, and your age and overall health.

    Possible complications from a bone marrow transplan include:

    • Graft-versus-host disease (allogeneic transplant only)
    • Stem cell (graft) failure
    • Organ damage
    • Infections
    • Cataracts
    • Infertility
    • New cancers
    • Death

    Your doctor can explain your risk of complications from a bone marrow transplan. Together you can weigh the risks and benefits to decide whether a bone marrow transplan is right for you.

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