What are Stem Cell Transplants? Things You Should Know
Stem cells have many practical uses, and even to this day, we still haven’t fully known what they’re really capable of.
The way doctors do it is that they extract the stem cells or known as stem cells extraction– either directly from the patient’s body or from a compatible donor, and then they have then run a series of chemotherapy/radiation sessions to kill the cancer cells. After which, the stem cells will be transplanted back into the person’s body to begin the rejuvenation process.
The bone marrow stem cells will, after given enough time, create red and white blood cells that are vital to our survival.
Back in the day, doctors are reluctant to up the dose of cancer-killing drugs because of the fact that it can kill the other healthy cells in the body as well.
But, with the use of stem cells (particularly bone marrow stem cells), the doctors can now feel at ease in increasing the dosage just to make sure that it kills the cancer cells because they know that the stem cells can just replenish the healthy cells that were killed during the battle.
Transplants are Often an Alternative, Not a Primary Treatment
In the case of treating Leukemia, for example, doctors do not turn to stem cells transplants as a primary treatment. They are often considered as the “Plan B” or the alternative just to act as a compliment to chemotherapy.
However, in some cases, there are times where cancer centers or clinics are using stem cells as the primary treatment method. This is usually done one Leukemia that is still not too severe.
Where Do They Come from?
To be honest, they are ubiquitous in our bodies. In the stem cell transplanted we are doing in the modern age, we predominantly get them either from the bone marrow or from the peripheral (bloodstream) system.
There are two modes of extraction. If the stem cells were derived from the patient’s own body, then the process is known to be Autologous.
However, if the stem cells were extracted from a donor, then the process is then known as Allogeneic.
Aside from the aforementioned sites, stem cells can also be acquired from the blood that is present in the umbilical cord of newborn babies. Parents can actually donate the stem cells derived from that source as they please.
The Patient Should Be a Match
When you derive stem cells from other people (Allogeneic), they have to be compatible with the patient. The reason why this is so that if the stem cells are not suitable for the patient to use, then it will just be rejected anyway. Thus, prior tests will be done to see if the donor is indeed compatible with the patient.
Stem cell treatments undergo a meticulous process. You will be given a battery of tests to see if the treatment option is the right one for you. Second, the actual extraction of the cells. Third, it is quite expensive.
If you’re looking towards getting a stem cell transplant, you have to think of the possible things that you will need to face.