A stem cell transplant, which is also referred to as a bone marrow transplant, is used for treating several types of cancer. The process might be called cord blood transplant or peripheral stem cell transplant which will depend on the origin of the stem cells. In this article, we will talk about what one can expect from the stem cell transplant process.
Before the transplant
- The donor or the patient will be getting injections of special medications approximately 4 days before the blood is drawn. These medications help to move blood-forming stem cells into the bloodstream from the bone marrow.
- The blood of the patient or that of the donor is going to be drawn. The stem cells from the bloodstream of the donor or the patient will be separated and frozen.
- The patient will receive “conditioning treatment”. It is going to be low-dose or high-dose chemotherapy or radiation. This is intended to destroy the cancer cells as well as the person’s personal stem cells, thus destroying his immune system so that it is possible for the transplanted stem cells to take over.
During the transplant
- The stem cells are going to be infused into the body of the person. He will be sitting in a chair for a few hours while the infusion is provided by means of a central line.
- The patient will be monitored by nurses. They will make sure that the individual is not developing chills, fever, hives, or a fall in the blood pressure.
- The patient might be suffering from some side effects such as nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath or flushing.
Following the transplant
- The new immune system of the patient will begin to function. The fresh stem cells will graft to the bone marrow after a couple of weeks, and new white blood cells will be created. Following this, the body of the person will start producing platelets, followed by red blood cells.
- In case the patient received donor cells, he will be getting anti-rejection drugs and antibiotics for helping his system accept the cells which were transplanted. He might likewise require intravenous nutrition along with transfusions of platelets and red blood cells.
- It is imperative for the patient to remain in an environment free from germs during the first several weeks. In case he had a transplant with donor cells, he might be needed to stay at the hospital for 1 month or so until his new immune system begins to function. He will require filtered air and it is essential for his visitors to put on masks.
- It is compulsory for the patient to visit the outpatient clinic for 6 months at regular intervals. His blood will be tested by the transplant staff for checking any complications and also whether the blood cells are healthy and to what extent. Following this, the personal doctor of the patient will go on caring for him.
During recovery from the transplant
It is quite natural for the patient to feel tired during the first several weeks. He might take even months prior to resuming his normal activities. Blood will be drawn by the doctor after a couple of months for verifying whether he is generating all types of blood cells. Meanwhile, the physician will also make certain that the patient is not suffering from any type of major complication.
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