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Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Transplants – Risks

A bone marrow transplant or a stem cell transplant is a medical procedure of replacing bone marrow with healthy cells. Transplantation helps in the treatment of certain types of cancers and other conditions. However, just like cancer treatment, it also has certain risks. These risks depend on the type of transplant, age, general health, and other factors. Although side effects go away with time, some are life-long. Managing side effects is crucial for stem cell and bone marrow transplants. 

Issues After Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Transplant

 After the transplant, many problems may arise. Your transplant team can help you deal with the side effects. Some risks can be prevented, and the rest can be treated. As soon as you see any problem after your transplant, it is important to rush to your doctor immediately. 

Risks Associated with Stem Cells and Bone Marrow Transplant

The following risks may come after stem cells and bone marrow transplants.

Throat and Mouth pain

Sores or inflammation in the mouth known as Mucositis is a short-term risk with radiation and chemotherapy. However, after the treatment, it gets better within a few weeks. But most of the time, patients have a tough time eating and drinking. Good food is crucial for people who have cancer. If the mouth is sore or in pain, your transplant team can develop a plan to manage these symptoms. 

Vomiting and Nausea

Chemotherapy drugs are very strong. They may cause vomiting and nausea. Therefore, to prevent it, doctors often prescribe anti-nausea medicines. The main aim is to avoid vomiting and nausea. However, the preventive treatment must start before chemotherapy and continue as long as chemo causes vomiting. However, no drug is powerful to control chemo-related vomiting and nausea. In several cases, more than two medicines may be prescribed. It is essential to discuss it with your transplant team about the medication. 

Reduced Number of Blood Cells

When preparing for a stem cell transplant, a patient needs chemotherapy. It destroys the diseased or damaged blood cells, replaced by transplanted stem cells. However, this process usually takes several weeks. Until the body begins to produce healthy blood cells, you may be at the risk of 

  • Excessive bleeding or bruising
  • Anemia
  • Infections

Graft versus Host Disease

In a few cases, the transplanted cells recognize the recipients’ cells as “Foreign” and thus attack them. This is Graft Versus Host Disease. This disease can occur within a few months of the bone marrow transplant. Although this condition is mild, sometimes it can be life-threatening. The common symptoms of GvHD are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Itchy Rashes
  • Dry Eyes
  • Dry and Sensitive Mouth
  • Sick
  • Flaky, dry skin
  • Joint Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Skin yellowing and eye whiteness

Transfusion and Bleeding

After stem cell and bone marrow transplant, the recipient is at risk of bleeding. This is because of the conditioning treatment that destroys the ability of the body to make platelets. Platelets are blood cells that help in blood clotting. Your transplant team ensures to follow special precautions to avoid bleeding and injury. As platelets counts are low for several weeks after transplant, you may notice bleeding gums and nose bleeding. If your platelet count drops below normal, you may need a platelet transfusion. You also need to follow precautions until your platelets count reaches the normal level. Also, after transplant, bone marrow needs time to start making red blood cells. Therefore, you may require red blood cell transfusions often as you recover. 

 Graft Failure

 Graft generally fails when the body cannot accept the new stem cells. It is one of the most common reasons for the donor and recipients not being properly matched and when a patient receives stem cells with removed T-cells. Besides this, it can also happen in patients with a low number of stem cells, as a single umbilical cord unit. This condition can result in severe infection or bleeding. It generally occurs to patients whose counts don’t improve even after 3-4 weeks of a bone marrow transplant. 

 Lung problems like Interstitial Pneumonitis

 Pneumonitis is a lung inflammation that can occur after the first three months after transplant. However, sometimes it may occur after two or more years after transplant. This condition is caused by graft-versus-host disease, chemo, or radiation. It damages the area between the lungs cells. Pneumonitis can be serious if the doctor gives total body irradiation with chemo as a part of conditioning treatment. 

Bottom Line

Stem cell and bone marrow transplants are effective but also carry some risks. If you are looking for bone marrow transplant cost in India and the experienced surgeons for stem cell, Lyfboat can help! By booking a live consultation at Lyfboat, you can openly talk about the benefits, risks, and packages involved in stem cell and bone marrow transplants. To read more about our health blogs, please visit our website.

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