To understand the complete procedure of stem cell transplant, first of all, we should understand what stem cells are? So, These are the cells that are produced in the bone marrow of a human body. The stem cells are produced to become any cells that the body requires. Stem cells become RBCs, WBCs, or blood platelets.
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What is Stem Cells Transplant?
Stem Cell transplant is a procedure where a patient receives healthy blood cells from another person to replace the damaged stem cells that are caused by strong chemoradiation while having cancer treatment. Stem Cell transplant is also done to replace the affected stem cells due to naturally occurring diseases. Bleeding and anemia are the most common symptoms of damaged Stem cells in the human body.
Why Stem Cell Transplant Required?
Stem cell transplant is actually a part of the bone marrow transplant. It is used to be done to replace the affected stem cells to improve the bone marrow’s efficiency which is used to produce new blood cells after conditioning treatment or radiation therapy.
After radiation therapy, the body is used to expose the large volumes of anti-carcinogenic elements that killed cancerous cells. In this process, the bone marrow is also get damaged and loses its capability to produce new blood cells.
At this point, the immune system of the body is weak as the bone marrow is not able to produce any white blood cells and stem cells. With a Stem Cell Transplant, the patient is induced with healthy stem cells that move to the bone marrow and form new blood cells and strengthen the immune system to fight the remnant cancer cells that are weakened after radiation.
What are the Types of Stem Cell Transplant?
Basically, there are 6 types of stem cell transplant which is used according to the condition of the patients.
Autologous Stem Cell Transplant
It is a procedure that uses the patient’s own blood cells to produce new stem cells. In the same process, the patient undergoes ‘Cell mobilization’, which is a process that is used to encourages the body to produce more stem cells. It initiates the movement of the stem cells from the bone marrow to the bloodstream. The rich blood of stem-cell is collected from the patient and processed into a machine that separates the stem cells from the blood. Then, it is stored in sub-zero conditions for later usage.
Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation
In this type of transplantation, the patient receives stem cells from a donor and is executed after the patient undergoes chemotherapy or treatment. In the above process, the rich blood of stem cells of a matching donor is processed in a machine that separates stem cells from the blood and is transferred into the host’s body.
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant
It is an intravenous cell replacement process that induces stem cells to replace the damaged cells affected by radiation treatment.
This type of transplant has been in widespread use since the early 1960s and has been prominent in treating and curing related diseases. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that often used to treat with this method.
Peripheral blood stem transplant
We can say that this transplant is a form of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) that is used in Autologous and Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplants. In this process, the stem cells are collected from the blood rather than the source, i.e the bone marrow.
Bone marrow transplant
It is a procedure that replaces the cells that are produced by the bone marrow. First, we need to understand bone marrow transplant is? It is a soft tissue that is present inside the bones in form of soft tissue. Stem cells are used to produced by the bone marrow and these stem cells are converted into red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets or form new stem cells if required.
Cord blood Stem Cell Transplant
It is a process that is highly used across the world. The umbilical cord is also a rich source for stem cells similar to the peripheral blood and bone marrow. This type of transplant is most effective in treating children and have seen efficient results in the case of adults.
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Diseases and Condition that Need Stem Cell Transplant
To treat this condition Stem Cell Transplant as a viable option. It is a condition in which the plasma of the white blood cells is affected. Plasma cells are used to generate antibodies that identify and attack foreign bodies.
Leukemia is a condition that is caused when cancerous cells are used to attack the white blood cells. WBCs are important for fighting foreign objects and disease-causing agents.
It is a type of cancer that originates in the Lymphatic cells and spreads throughout various parts of the body. The effect of the condition is intensified as the lymph nodes are the body’s network for fighting diseases and hence, are spread across the body.
It is a disease that is either caused by genetic mutation or Epstein-Barr-Virus. The common age in which patients can get affected by the condition is either when they are between 15-30 years or after 55.
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)
It is a condition in which the blood cells are not fully matured hence are not released from the bone marrow.
One is the most uncommon form of cancer that causes scarring in the bone marrow. This condition can lead to severe anemia, loss of blood platelet count, excessive bleeding, and other complications.
A condition where the body is not able to produce enough RBCs, WBCs, and blood platelets. It is generally caused by pregnancy, autoimmune diseases, use of certain drugs, exposure to toxic chemicals, and radiation treatments.
It is a disease where the antibodies start attacking the soft cell tissues of the body itself instead of disease-causing agents. It is a genetic disorder and treatment is completely depends on the severity of the condition.
What are the Risk Factors of Stem Cell Transplants?
- Scaly skin, itching, and Rash
- Graft Vs Host Syndrome
- Nausea, Vomiting, and abdominal cramps
- Loss of appetite
- Damaged lungs, dry mouth, esophagus, and other organs
- Weight loss
What is the Procedure for Stem Cell Transplantation?
The procedure of Stem Cell Transplant is quite risky and not advised for every patient to undergo this process due to various factors of patient’s prior medical history, his/her ability to withstand the radiation treatment, and its side effects. For some patients, reduced intensity of allogeneic treatment is advised.
Salient factors that are considered before a patient is administered Stem cell replacement are:
- The overall health condition of the patient
- Previous medical history
- The severity of the condition
- Probability of the patient’s body responds to the treatment
- Availability of stem cells either from the donor or self
- Stem Cell Transplant is strenuous on the body and hence the patient is advised to discuss options on fertility, various Medical tests, costs involved, Intravenous Catheter insertion, and caregiver.
Before a Stem Cell Transplant start, the patient is asked to undergo a list of medical tests to understand the actual condition of the body and get help to predict the outcome of such a procedure.
In this transplantation, the patient is exposed to harmful radiation that can affect the fertility of the patient. If the patient is of the age of giving birth or willing to be a parent in the near future, then, options on storing eggs or sperm should be discussed with a physician.
Intravenous catheter insertions
Insertion of a central line in the body is important because the patient has to go through a lot of blood transfusions, injections, chemotherapy, and other fluids and this can be painful if done without the insertion of a central line.
The cost involved
A stem cell replacement transplant is an expensive procedure, the patient should discuss their financials with the medical team.
How to Find a Donor for Stem Transplant?
Finding a donor for a stem cell transplant is a long and tedious process because only 3 out of 10 cases in unrelated donors and in 5 out of 10 cases in related donors.
For the patient undergoing such a transplant his/her own body is the first option as for transplant because it is very unlikely to be rejected by the body in GVHS after the transplant. However, the medical team will test to see if you are a good donor based on your weight, general conditions, and severity of the condition, and the rate at which the existing stem cells are affected.
The second option is siblings which have generally considered the next best option when looking for an HLA-matched donor. Due to the similar genetic composition of the HLA from their biological parents, siblings have a higher chance of being a good HLA match for Stem Cell Transplant.
When siblings are not HLA match, then the searching for a donor is begun and the existing cells in the storage facility are combed through to find stem cells or umbilical cords which match the HLA of the patient.
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Ways to Recovery and Aftercare after Stem Cell Transplant
Stem Cell Treatment for Cancer
The aftercare after a stem cell replacement transplant is very exhaustive and intensive. Due to the week, the immune system of the patient becomes similar to that of a newborn baby. The caregiver and patient are coached on how to navigate this transition by the medical team.
Patients need to stay at the hospital for a long, going back home, and being surrounded by your loved ones can surely be something to look forward to. But, after various rounds of chemotherapy and blood transfusions, going back home and feeling the same about it can be slightly challenging.
By the time, patients need to be adjusted to their old surroundings, and things that stress them do not have the same effect.
Animals carry lots of diseases, so it is not advisable to have pets for at least 12 months after treatment as the immune system is very weak and the chances of catching an infection are very high.
Always have food from neatly washed utensils. Wear clean clothes that are properly dried in the sunlight. Avoid touching soil or plants, and when done, ensure that there are gloves and masks used.
Avoid using a humidifier at home as it creates a musty environment which is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Friends and family visitation
Well, as such no restrictions on who you meet. However, it is advisable to meet people in small groups.
Avoid meeting anyone who has a
- Recently exposed to chickenpox
- Recently exposed to Herpesvirus
- Exposed to shingles or other forms of infections
- Received a live-virus vaccination
After the transplant, one could experience erectile dysfunction and this might affect your personal life. However, this is temporary and can be treated with a simple exercise.
This condition can also be treated with medications like Viagra.
Consumption of Alcohol and Tobacco
Consumption of such products as cigarettes, cigars are strictly prohibited after undergoing a stem cell replacement transplant.
Consumption of alcohol is also prohibited as it may damage the kidney. It is advised to consult a doctor about consumption.
After a stem cell transplant, the patient may develop a cataract.
It is advised to consult a doctor if:
- If you witness any change when viewing colors
- The vision is blurry or foggy
- If you are experiencing double vision
- If you have problems driving at night
Here we have discussed the complete procedure for Stem Cell Transplant. Hope you are well aware of the treatment and the procedure. If you are looking for treatment you can visit our websites and connect us through WhatsApp on +91 9654030724.
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