Bone marrow transplants are life-saving operations for people who are very ill. The operations can only occur through the generosity of strangers willing to go through a procedure to give someone the gift of life. Here’s what you need to know if you’ve ever considered registering as a bone marrow donor. You can also get redirected here to know more about bone marrow.
What is Bone Marrow?
Bone marrow is the tissue found inside some of our flat bones such as the hips, ribs, and skull. Our marrow contains stem cells which can turn into red blood cells that carry oxygen. Bone marrow also produces white cells needed to fight infection and platelets to stop bleeding. Red blood cells have a life of only three months so our bone marrow needs to constantly renew from the stem cell pool. It’s these stem cells that are the most valuable cells in bone marrow transplantation.
The Need for a Bone Marrow Transplant
Some diseases destroy bone marrow leaving patients unable to make new blood cells and therefore vulnerable to infection. Patients may require a bone marrow transplant to survive. These blood cancers include:
- Sickle cell anemia
- Myeloproliferative disorders, and
- Other life-threatening diseases
Some treatments of the disease are so severe that they can also destroy a patient’s bone marrow. Big doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be needed to treat advanced cancer and some types of leukemia after remission.