Bone marrow is the fatty, spongy tissue inside your bones that produces red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. A bone marrow transplant is basically replacing diseased bone marrow with new, healthy bone marrow. Bone marrow transplants have become an extremely common treatment for a variety of diseases, such as deficiencies in red and white blood cells, forms of cancer, immune disorders and inherited diseases such as thalassemia.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Understand allogeneic bone marrow transplants. In this type of transplant, the patient receives healthy bone marrow from a donor. The patient is first pre-conditioned to destroy the diseased bone marrow, so that the new, donated bone marrow has room to grow.
Understand autologous bone marrow transplants. This type of transplant utilizes the patients own bone marrow. Healthy bone marrow is harvested months before the transplant, then the diseased bone marrow is destroyed. Next, healthy cells are re-infused to help rescue what is left of the remaining bone marrow.
Understand cord blood transplants. This type of transplant utilizes stem cells which are harvested from the placenta and umbilical cord immediately after a baby is born. The cells are frozen, and again, the patient is pre-conditioned to make way for the healthy cord blood transplant.
Stay abreast of the latest bone marrow transplant research at the American Cancer Society Web site (see Resources below).
Quit smoking if you are preparing to undergo a bone marrow transplant. It can benefit your health and recovery, no matter what kind of transplant you receive.