Bone marrow transplants and what to consider
Bone marrow transplant (BMT) is done to replace destroyed or damaged bone marrow, which can stop functioning due to diseases like sickle cell or aplastic anaemia. It can also be destroyed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy, which is used in treating diseases like cancer.
Bone marrow is the spongy tissue found on the inside of our bones. This tissue comprises of stem cells that produce both red and white blood cells as well as platelets. BMT is often used in treating anaemia, leukemia, cancer and immune deficiency disorders.
Receiving BMT abroad
If the cost of treatment in your area is beyond your budget, you can travel abroad to undergo the procedure in a foreign country. The idea of travelling to another country just to undergo this treatment might seem scary, however, some hospitals may be offering this treatment at a lower price. People prefer receiving this treatment abroad to reduce their hospital waiting time, but it is important that you know what to expect in the country where you intend to travel to.
There are different types of bone marrow transplants. Syngeneic transplant is where bone marrow comes from an identical twin, while an allogeneic transplant is where bone marrow comes from a different donor. In most cases, siblings are a good match for bone marrow, and this prevents possible rejection of the bone marrow by the patient, a process called graft-versus-host diseases.
A general procedure is usually followed during this process. Both the donor and the patient undergo tests that are aimed at ensuring that their bone marrows match. This is followed by harvesting the bone marrow via a large needle that is inserted into the hipbone’s crest, where bone marrow is then aspirated into the syringe. Before the patient receives the bone marrow and blood, they receive radiation therapy and chemotherapy, which is aimed at destroying their bone marrow because mixing diseased and healthy bone marrow can reduce the efficacy or even cause failure of the procedure.
Cost of the procedure
The cost of a bone marrow transplant depends on where it is performed and who performs it. For instance, an autologous bone marrow transplant procedure can cost $75,000 in a facility in the United States and $30,000 in a facility in India. It is important to note that low cost in some facilities and countries does not actually reflect service quality, expertise and training. Some countries have accredited, world-class and experienced surgeons that perform the procedure without charging hefty costs.
Nevertheless, the procedure should be performed by experienced specialists or oncologists to minimize the risks of failure. Therefore, when looking for a foreign facility for your bone marrow transplant, make sure that the location that you choose has a certified and accredited staff.
This procedure may require you to remain in the hospital for some weeks to heal and in some cases, the recovery process can take several months. This is important because it reduces the risk of infection and pain. For instance, if a patient develops the graft-versus-host disease, the recovery period can last up to 6 months. Nevertheless, you can undergo this treatment on an outpatient basis depending on your situation and whether the procedure is autologous or allergenic. Your doctor should advise you accordingly before you travel abroad for a bone marrow transplant.
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