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The Role of Donors in Bone Marrow Transplants: How You Can Help

Bone Marrow is a soft, spongy material found in the majority of your bones. Every day, the body creates more than 200 billion new blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. However, the process fails to work correctly for patients with Bone Marrow Diseases, which includes Sickle Cell Anemia and various Types of Cancer. A Bone Marrow Transplantation in India is often a person’s best chance of survival and possibly a cure. The encouraging thing is that donating bone marrow can be as simple and painless as donating blood. 

The majority of healthy individuals between the ages of 18 and 44 might qualify as prospective blood and marrow stem cell donors. Finding a Right Donor for a Bone Marrow Transplant may be the only hope for some patients. Medsurge India assists Bone Marrow Transplant Recipients, their families, and donors in understanding the process and risks involved as well as finding the best match.

About Bone Marrow

The soft, spongy tissue found inside bones is known as bone marrow. It is the place of development and storage for the majority of the body’s blood cells.

Stem cells are blood cells that produce more blood cells. The stem cell that is pluripotent is the most primitive of stem cells. This blood cell differs from other blood cells in several ways:

  • Renewal: It has the ability to replicate another cell that is identical to itself.
  • Differentiation:The encouraging thing is that donating bone marrow can be as simple and painless as donating blood. 

During the procedure of Bone Marrow Transplantation in India, stem cells are a major requirement.

What Is Bone Marrow Transplantation

A bone marrow transplantation, also known as a Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT), is a medical procedure in which damaged or diseased bone marrow cells are replaced with healthy bone marrow cells. (ALLO) Allogeneic Transplantation in India involves the transplanting of bone marrow stem cells from a donor into the recipient. Donor stem cells can come from either the blood that circulates throughout the body of another individual or from umbilical cord blood.

However, there is a catch. Before an ALLO transplant can be performed, a matched donor must be identified using Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing. This specialized blood test examines HLAs, which are different kinds of proteins on the surface of white blood cells and other cells that differentiate each individual’s tissue type. HLA-Matched Bone Marrow is far less likely to produce Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD), a potential side effect of transplantation. When immune cells in the transplanted tissue detect the recipient’s body as “foreign” and attack it, this is referred to as GVHD.

Bone marrow transplants are frequently performed to treat conditions such as Sickle Cell Anemia, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, aplastic anemia, and other blood disorders. It can also be used to treat certain genetic disorders, disorders of the immune system, and metabolic problems.

Types of Bone Marrow Donation

Bone marrow transplants and donations are classified into two types:

  • When patients donate their own bone marrow, this is known as Autologous Bone Marrow Transplantation. “Auto” refers to oneself.
  • An Allogeneic Bone marrow Transplant occurs when bone marrow is donated by another person. “Allo” implies “different.”
Types of Bone Marrow Donation

Types of Bone Marrow Donation

The donor’s genes must at least partially match the recipient’s genes in an allogenic transplant. A brother or sister by the blood relation is the most likely match. Parents, children, and other relatives are sometimes good matches. However, only approximately 30% of those in need of a bone marrow transplant may discover a match in their own family.

Donating Bone Marrow

  • Doctors seek for a donor that has the same tissue type as their patient, specifically their   tissue type. HLAs are proteins or indicators — found in the majority of your body’s cells. These markers are used by your immune system to determine which cells belong in your body and which do not. The higher the match between the patient’s HLA markers and yours, the better.
  • More tests will be performed to see if you are the greatest potential match for the patient. Experts may request another cheek swab or blood sample. 
  • The procedure is performed in a hospital or an outpatient clinic.
  • A doctor can use general anesthesia to keep you unconscious and pain-free during the procedure. They could also employ regional anesthesia. You will be awake, but you will not feel anything in the area of your body that is being treated.
  • A qualified health care worker will insert a needle into each donor’s arms. A single needle will extract blood, and a machine will circulate the blood and collect the stem cells. Your blood is then returned to your body via the second needle. 
  • The process takes roughly 3 hours and can be performed on a second donation day. Headaches, bone soreness, and pain from the needles during the procedure are all possible side effects.
  • Although it is rare, some donors may be asked to undergo a bone marrow harvest, which involves surgeons extracting bone marrow from the rear of a donor’s hip bone during surgery. 
  • Donors usually return home the same day after surgery and can resume normal activities within one week. Common anesthesia-related adverse effects include nausea, headache, and exhaustion. Lower back bruising or soreness is also prevalent.

Bone marrow transplants can save the lives of many people, especially those suffering from hematologic malignancies. Cancers like these damage immune system cells or blood-forming organs, including bone marrow. Types of hematologic conditions include:

  1. Leukemia
  2. Sickle Cell Anemia
  3. Thalassemia
  4. Lymphoma 
  5. Myeloma

What Makes you Unsuitable to be a Bone Marrow Donor

Many factors may preclude you from donating bone marrow. People above the age of 60, for example, are not eligible to donate. This age limit is set by transplant organizations because many persons develop conditions as they age that would disqualify them as donors. The following medical conditions exclude potential donors:

  • Cancer: People who have recently received chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or cancer treatment may be unable to donate bone marrow.
  • Chronic hip, back, or spine pain, if you’re getting therapy for it, such as medication.
  • Chronic Lyme disease.
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C
  • Kidney failure.
  • HIV/AIDs.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 
  • Autoimmune diseases impact the entire body.
  • Hemophilia and deep vein thrombosis are examples of bleeding disorders or ailments.
  • Brain damage.

This is only a partial list of the reasons why you might not be able to donate bone marrow. If you wish to donate bone marrow but aren’t sure if you qualify, consult with your doctor. They can go over the medical guidelines as well as your medical history.

Risks Associated with Donation Procedure

After giving bone marrow, the majority of donors fully recover. It is important to note that bone marrow donations are surgical procedures with the following risks:

  • Anesthesia reaction.
  • Damage to the nerves or muscles.
  • Infection.
  • Injury to the hip where the needle was  inserted

Although general anesthesia is safe, it is not without risks and adverse effects. The following are some common adverse effects:

  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Confusion or memory issues
  • Incontinence of urine 
  • Sore throat 
  • Dizziness

It may also produce major consequences in rare circumstances, such as unintentional awareness, which occurs when someone becomes conscious while under general anesthesia, or anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal.

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Conclusion

Despite the fact that millions of people throughout the world have registered to donate bone marrow, there is always a need for more donors. For bone marrow transplants to work, the donor-recipient match must be as close as possible. The more people who register up to give, the more likely it is that someone suffering from life-threatening blood cancer or a blood condition will receive a transplant. Communicate with a healthcare provider if you want to learn more about donating bone marrow.

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