Bone marrow transplants (BMT) are procedures that restore stem cells that have been destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy. Stem cells are cells that give rise to the blood cells that carry oxygen, help the body to fight infections, and make the blood clot.
Chemotherapy delivered in high doses destroys cancers better, but also destroys stem cells present in the bone marrow. Bone marrow transplants help restore the bone marrow, in order that the patient can tolerate the high doses of chemotherapy.
Bone marrow can be collected and then transfused in patients to restore their bone marrow stem cell reserve.
There are three types of bone marrow transplant:
- Autologous transplants: when patients receive their own stem cells.
- Allogeneic transplants: when patients receive stem cells from their brother, sister, or parent. An unrelated donor also may be used.
- Syngeneic transplants: when patients receive stem cells from their identical twin.