BonesHealthy LivingPhysical Health

Bone Marrow Transplant – Recovery time & care needed

A bone marrow transplant is a surgical procedure to replace damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy bone marrow. The bone marrow is destroyed because of chemotherapy, infection, or other diseases. The procedure involves transplanting of blood stem cells, which travel to the bone marrow where they produce new blood cells and promote the growth of new healthy bone marrow. 

The bone marrow transplant cost is somewhere between 15,00,000 to 40,00,000 INR. 

Bone marrow is a fatty, vicious tissue inside of the bones such as thigh and hip bone. Bone marrow is responsible for the following parts of the blood:

  • White Blood cells (WBC) to fight infection.
  • Red Blood Cells (RBC) responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
  • Platelets are responsible for the formation of blood clots. 

Bone marrow also contains immature blood-forming cells known as hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). These stem cells have the potential to multiply through cell division and either remain stem cells or differentiate into many forms of blood cells. The HSCs found in the blood cells will produce new blood cells throughout your lifespan. 

A bone marrow transplant is a process to replace damaged stem cells with healthy stem cells. This helps your body to make red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells to avoid anemia, bleeding disorders, or infection. 

The bone marrow transplant success rate in India is reported to be 20% in uncontrolled blood cancer to 80% in young, healthy patients with aplastic anemia. 

Healthy bone marrow can either come from your own body or from a donor. In case it’s coming from your own body, the stem cells can be collected, harvested, and stored before you start with radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment. The healthy cells are then used in transplantation. 

Why is Bone marrow required?

Bone marrow transplant is required when a person’s own bone marrow cannot function properly. This may happen due to cancer treatment, chronic infection, or any other disease. 

Below are some of the reasons for bone marrow transplant:

  • Damaged bone marrow because of chemotherapy treatment.
  • Cancers such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, lymphoma affect the bone marrow.
  • Aplastic anemia where the bone marrow stops making red blood cells.
  • Congenital neutropenia where there are recurring infections.
  • Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder.
  • Thalassemia where the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin. 

Complications associated with bone marrow transplant:

A bone marrow transplant is a complex medical procedure that involves a certain amount of risks such as the following:

  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Drop-in Blood pressure 
  • Graft-versus-host-disease
  • Graft failure
  • Early menopause
  • Infections
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Mucositis
  • Anemia
  • damage to vital organs
  • Cataracts
  • Bleeding in the lungs, brain, and other parts of the body

These complications are short-lived but can cause complications. These complications depend on several factors such as:

  • Age
  • Overall health condition
  • The disease you’re being treated for
  • Type of transplant received 

Bone marrow transplant cost starts with USD 17,000 which is approximately 12,00,000 in India. The bone marrow treatment cost depends on several factors such as the hospital a patient chooses, the cost of the follow-up, medicines, etc. 

Bone Marrow Transplant – Recovery time:

The recovery period starts after the successful infusion of the bone marrow. During this time, you have to wait for the cells to engraft, after which they start to multiply and form new healthy blood cells. The recovery time after infusion depends on the patient’s well-being and the type of transplant. Seeing a steady return to normal blood counts usually takes about 2 to 6 weeks. You’ll be in the hospital or have to visit the transplant center daily for a few weeks. 

 During the first week after infusion, you’ll have less count of red blood cells and platelets. You will be prescribed medicines to fight off the infections. You will be given a combination of antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial medicines. This is given until your white blood cells give a satisfactory count. 

The bone marrow transplant success rate in India is extremely good. Indian surgeons are highly recognized and awarded for their success in bone marrow transplants. It’s the golden period for India, as India has become the preferred destination choice for bone marrow transplant among foreign patients.  

You can be discharged from the hospital when the following events have occurred:

  • You no more require daily blood transfusions. 
  • You’re eating and drinking adequately.
  • You have been without fever for more than 24 hours.
  • Side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pain all have been in control with oral medications.
  • Your cells have started to engraft and your absolute neutrophil count (ANC) is more than 1.0 or 1,000. 
  • You’re able to take pills and other drugs for more than 48 hours.
  • Hematocrit is at least 25% to 30%
  • Platelet count is at least 15,000 to 20,000/mm3

Bone marrow transplant- care needed:

Once you are free to go home after successful blood infusion, transplant recipients have to be on specific food guidelines to help protect against bacteria and other harmful organisms found in drinks and food. You’re required to follow the diet for 100 days. 

During the rehabilitation period, you might feel physically and mentally tired. You’ll be on some medications. A caretaker is very important once you start rehabilitation at home. You will have to take weekly blood tests and other tests to check you’re responding well. You might also need blood and platelet transfusions, antibiotics, or other treatments. It takes 6 to 12 months for blood count to get close to the normal and immune system to work well. 

If you face any of the issues, please bring them to the notice of your transplant team. They can help you with recovery. 

Hospitals such as Fortis, BLK, Gleneagles provide the best bone marrow cancer treatment in India.

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