What is a bone marrow transplant?
A bone marrow transplant is a treatment that replaces unhealthy marrow with a healthy one. It’s also called a blood or marrow transplant (BMT).
What is bone marrow?
Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue inside your bones that makes blood-forming cells (blood stem cells). These cells turn into blood cells including:
- White blood cells to fight infections.
- Red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
- Platelets to control bleeding.
Blood-forming cells are also found in the blood stream and the umbilical cord blood.
How does transplant work?
Before transplant, you get chemotherapy (chemo) with or without radiation to destroy the diseased blood-forming cells and marrow. Then, healthy cells are given to you (it’s not surgery). The new cells go into your bloodstream through an intravenous (IV) line, or tube. It’s just like getting blood or medicine through an IV. The cells find their way into your marrow, where they grow and start to make healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
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What diseases can BMT treat?
Bone marrow transplants can treat:
- Blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma
- Bone marrow diseases like aplastic anemia
- Other immune system or genetic diseases like sickle cell disease
Read more about the 3 common types of BMT:
- Autologous transplant – uses your own blood-forming cells
- Allogeneic transplant – uses blood-forming cells donated by someone else
- Haploidentical transplant – a type of allogeneic transplant
The Be The Match® Patient Support Center provides support, information and resources for transplant patients, caregivers and families. We are here to help you get reliable, easy-to-understand information from diagnosis through recovery. Call or email us for confidential, one-on-one support from caring experts. We’ll list and help you find answers. All of our programs and resources are free.