Stem Cell Transplant
What is stem cell transplantation?
Stem cells are defined as undifferentiated cells that are able to transform into any high specialized cell which can later form any type of tissue and organ in the human body. They are so important due to their ability to differentiate into virtual any cell type.
Cord blood stem cells are able to treat numerous forms of malignant blood diseases. We include here leukemia, using a treatment with the patient’s own cells. Stem cell transplantation is defined as healthy infusion of stem cells, and is required if the number of stem cells that are produced by bone marrow is low or the bone marrow no longer fulfills its functions properly. Stem cells are designed to produce healthy condition white cells, platelets and red blood cells thereby minimizing the patient’s risk of suffering from various infections and anemia.
Regarding stem cell source, we can talk about stem cell transplant that uses the patient’s own cells (autologous transplant), and stem cells from a donor, in which case we are talking about allogeneic stem transplantation.
Treatment with stem cells is very useful for treating patients whose stem cells were affected by a disease, whether it is cancerous or noncancerous process involved. The stem cells can also be used to replace diseased bone marrow. Bone marrow produces too few blood cells in this case and new stem cells will be transplanted that will replace the non-functional bone marrow, which will eventually start functioning normally. In the case of leukemia, cancer cells present in the patient’s bone marrow can be removed also with the help of transplanted stem cells. After a stem cell transplant, the production of normal bone marrow cells can be resumed.
What are the risks?
Stem cell transplantation is not a procedure without complications, unfortunately many of them can be even fatal. Many patients do not meet major problems, but some are forced to perform multiple tests and be hospitalized to benefit from this type of procedure. Among the most common complications we mention: failure of the transplant, graft versus host disease, lesions of different blood vessels, cataracts, the occurrence of secondary cancers or even death. The patient should know the risks and in conjunction with his doctor should balance the benefits and complications and then make the right decision. The greatest danger is the possibility of transplant rejection when the transplanted stem cells are coming from a donor, condition called graft versus host disease.