Bone marrow transplant involves bone marrow containing stem cells from a healthy donor transferring to a recipient whose body is unable to produce enough red blood cells. The purpose of the transplant is to rebuild the recipient’s blood cells and immune system to cure his ailment.
Some times the donor and the recipient both are the same person. This type of transplant is known as autologous transplant. In case the person’s bone marrow is unsuitable for an autologous transplant, then a donor is required. This type of bone marrow transplant is known as allogeneic transplant. Allogeneic transplant is more complicated because of proteins called human lymphocyte antigens (HLA) that are on the surface of the bone marrow cells. If there is a difference in the antigens of the donor with reference to the recipient, then the recipient’s immune system considers the donor’s bone marrow cells as invaders and attacks them. This can defeat the very purpose of the bone marrow transplant.
There are mainly five HLA types such as HLA-A, B, C, D, and class III. But there is a lot of variation within the group. HLA-A of one person can be very different from the HLA-A of another person. Such a match is not acceptable. An identical twin is always the best match. HLA of close relative also can be a god match. In case of unrelated bone marrow transplants, the donors are found through national bone marrow registries. More antigens match, the donated bone marrow will be accepted in the recipient’s body.
The potential donor when identified has to undergo additional tests. His health, exposure to viruses and complete genetic analysis is carried out to verify the extent of the match.
Continuous follow-up care is required after the bone marrow transplant to ensure its success.
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