There are three types of bone marrow transplant. In the autologuous type, your child’s cells are preserved in a freezer and used later. Allogeneic implies getting help from a family member as a donor.
Bone marrow is a spongy, fatty tissue present in our bones in immature form. It is responsible for creating red blood cells which carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, white blood cells which are responsible for fighting against infection and platelets which are responsible for the formation of clots.
A bone marrow transplant in children is carried out to cure many diseases and types of cancer. It is a medical procedure to replace bone marrow which has been destroyed or damaged by disease, infection or chemotherapy with healthy bone marrow. The process involves replacing the damaged bone marrow with a new one, promoting the growth of new bone marrow.
Why a child might need a BMT?
A child might need bone marrow transplant, if he/she has certain types of cancer and other disorders. The goal is to replace the diseased bone marrow of a child with a healthy one. Depending on the child’s condition different types transplants are used. Following are three types of bone marrow transplants :
Different types of BMT in children
1.Autologous transplant: The child’s own healthy cells are used in this transplant before the chemotherapy and radiation treatment. They are stored in the freezer and after the treatment, stem cells are put back into the child’s body to reproduce normal blood cells. In this transplant, the child act as their own donor as their own stem cells act as healthy bone marrow which is required. The only advantage of this transplant is the absence of graft-versus-host disease which usually can be the case in donor transplant.
2.Allogeneic bone marrow transplant: When child’s own healthy stem cells cannot be used, so donor’s genes are used. A donor can be anyone from the family such as a parent or a sibling. Special tests are performed to get the closest match to the patient’s genes. The oncologist will pick the match assuring a positive outcome. If the child’s has damaged bone marrow cells, the allogeneic transplant is preferred. Unlike autologous transplant, allogenic has a risk of developing graft-versus-host disease. The success of this transplant highly depends on how closely the donor cells match the child’s cells.
3.Umbilical cord transplant: It is a type of allogeneic transplant. The stem cells are harvested from the newborn baby’s umbilical cord right after birth. They are then stored at a much lower temperature and preserved until put in to use for a transplant. The cells from umbilical cords are immature and are in the budding stage, so the threat is minimal of counter-attack. With many advantages, oncologists are opting for this method.
Is adult and children BMT any different?
No. The possible complications with a child patient may differ from an adult. The risk and complications may vary depending on the :
- Type of transplant
- Disease it will be treating
- Medications used during the transplant
- Child’s age and overall health
- Difference between donor and recipient tissue
Evaluation of the child’s health
A bone marrow transplant for a child have extensive evaluation which is taken care by a team of medical professionals. Factors such as- child age, health, medical history, type of disease, progression of the disease, type of transplant to be carried out, availability of a donor, physical and mental health of the child, medications and procedure tolerance and expectation from the transplant surgery and recovery time period.
A bone marrow transplant in child is successful. The risk and complications are involved in all types of transplant surgeries. The child will be evaluated on his/her health at the moment. A chemotherapy or radiation or sometimes both are given to the child prior to the transplant. The chemotherapy destroys damaged or diseased bone marrow and required bone marrow is transplant. After the surgery the child is kept under observation for graft-versus-host-disease.