A bone marrow transplant is a surgical procedure to transplant healthy bone marrow to a patient with deficient bone marrow function (usually due to chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer).
Bone marrow is a soft, fatty tissue found in bones that produces red and white blood cells. If a patient develops a disease of the blood cells (anemias, leukemias, or lymphomas) or if cancer treatment destroys bone marrow, a healthy bone marrow transplant can save a patient’s life.
Patients need bone marrow transplants in order to replenish white blood cells, which are needed to fight infection. Donated bone marrow must match the patient’s tissue type. As with all organ transplants, finding a donor is a significant problem, as is the cost of the surgery.
After a bone marrow transplant, the patient is hospitalized for 4-6 weeks and is isolated and under strict monitoring because of the risk of infection. It may take 6 months to 1 year for the patient to fully recover from this procedure. Relatively normal activities can be resumed as soon as the patient feels well enough and after consulting with a doctor.
Dr. Randall Holcomb M.D.