A lot of crowdfunding campaigns on Milaap are for bone marrow transplants. Sometimes these patients have cancer, rare blood diseases or blood-related disorders. Here’s all you need to know about bone marrow transplants.
What Is Bone Marrow?
Bone marrow is the spongy, fatty tissue inside your bones. It creates all your blood cells (Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets). Each of these has a specific function.
Red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body
White blood cells fight infections
Platelets are responsible for forming clots
Bone marrow can create such cells through blood-forming stem cells known as hematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs. These stem cells, unlike other cells, can divide and become RBCs, WBCs, platelets or even remains are more HSCs.
What Is A Bone Marrow Transplant?
A bone marrow transplant (BMT) is a medical procedure that replaces damaged bone marrow with healthy blood stem cells, so they will produce new blood cells and a healthy marrow.
Why Do You Need A Bone Marrow Transplant?
When your bone marrow is destroyed by infections, cancer or chemotherapy, it will not be effective in making new blood cells. This means you will be vulnerable to infections, anemia and bleeding disorders. A patient usually needs a bone marrow transplant when suffering from:
aplastic anemia where marrow stops making new blood cells
sickle cell anemia where they have misshapen red blood cells (genetic)
thalassemia where the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin, an integral part of red blood cells (genetic)
congenital neutropenia where they are genetically prone to recurring infections
forms of cancer that affect the marrow like leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma
damaged bone marrow due to chemotherapy or radiation
10 years old, Sanju cries every time he goes to the bathroom. He has severe stomach pain and there’s blood in his stools. he is suffering from Fanconi Anemia. His bone marrow has stopped making all cells. If he does not get a BMT soon, he will lose his life.
What Are the Complications Associated With A Bone Marrow Transplant?
Consider this medical procedure equivalent to any other major surgery. It has a lot of risks and complications including:
graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), where the donor cells attack your body
graft failure, where the transplanted cells do not start creating new cells as they are supposed to
bleeding in the lungs, brain, and other parts of the body
anemia, infections, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting, cataracts, early menopause or even organ failure
What are the types of Bone marrow transplants
There are two types of bone marrow transplants (BMT) – autologous and allogeneic.
In autologous transplants, a patient’s own cells are harvested from the body before chemotherapy or radiation. After this treatment, the cells are again introduced into the body. This is if the patient has a healthy bone marrow.
In allogeneic transplants, the cells of a donor are used. In this case, the donor needs to be a close genetic match (often a sibling, father or mother). Sometimes, when a relative is not available, matches are even found in a donor registry. The success of this transplant depends on how close the match is.
What happens before a bone marrow transplant?
Before the BMT, a patient undergoes chemotherapy to kill all cancer cells or marrow cells. Since the part of the body that produces white blood cells is compromised, the patient is vulnerable to infections. So, until the transplant is completed, he will be in a sterile room with limited exposure to outside environment including family, things and even hospital staff.
It is hard for any family to go through this process, especially if the patient is a child. Sometimes, chemotherapy before the procedure takes weeks, even months. During this time, except the mother, nobody is allowed inside the sterile room. While their expenses pile on, these families struggle to manage the condition even on an emotional level. Sometimes they tend to wait to proceed with BMT for weeks even after chemotherapy due to lack of funds. Crowdfunding eases a part of the pain and helps speed up the process.
Through crowdfunding, the family of the patient can relieve some of the financial strain of the surgery by asking for the generous and compassionate support of the community.
How to use crowdfunding for a bone marrow transplant?
Crowdfunding platforms like Milaap have become a popular option for families who are in immediate need of financial support especially when a loved one needs a bone marrow transplant.
2-year-old Akash has a condition that causes recurrent infections. His parents have gone to hospitals all over India to find a solution. Several blood transfusions later it became apparent that Akash needs a bone marrow transplant. Although the family tried to bear the expenses on their own, it was too much to manage on such short notice. They took to crowdfunding and the funds will help Akash get a bone marrow transplant soon.
“Thank you for all the love and support you have shown Akash.”