What is a bone marrow transplant?


Do they suck the marrow out of each bone and inject new marrow back in?

In: Biology

During a bone marrow transplant the recipient’s bone marrow cells are destroyed using chemotherapy, this is known as conditioning. The recipient is then injected with donor stem cells into the bloodstream. Stem cells travel through the bloodstream and into the bone marrow to create new bone marrow cells.

Not quite. Before the recipient gets the new marrow, their defective marrow is destroyed using radiation or chemotherapy. It used to be that some of the donor’s bone marrow is extracted from the pelvis using a large needle, but now the more common method is something a called peripheral stem cell transplant, which is less invasive than extracting marrow from the pelvis with a needle. In a peripheral stem cell transplant, the donor is hooked up to a machine using a simple IV. The machine filters the donors blood and removes hematopoetic stem cells (stem cells that will produce all types of blood) while returning everything else back to the donor. Then these stem cells are injected into their bloodstream of the recipient. From there, the cells will circulate and make their way to the recipients bone marrow where they will proliferate and being producing normal blood cells for the recipient.

There are actually 2 different types of bone marrow donations.

The first is the traditional marrow method. Needles are used to go into the donor’s pelvic bone & withdraw marrow.

The second type of bone marrow donation isn’t even technically bone marrow at all. It’s peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation. For 5 days leading up to the PBSC donation, you’re given injections to increase these cells (which can cause head/muscle aches. On the day of donation, you have two needles in your arm. Blood leaves one arm, goes through an apheresis machine, which filters the PBSC’s out, & your blood returns to your body in your other arm.

Regarding the actual transplant, the patient receives high doses of chemotherapy that kills off their cancer-ridden bone marrow, & then the donated cells are delivered via an IV tube or catheter.