- Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry

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Questions and Answers
about
Bone Marrow Stem Cell
Transplantation
prepared by the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry
What is the connection between blood and
bone marrow?
 Blood
cells live and function for a few weeks,
then they die, and have to be replenished
 Stem cells in the bone marrow are the source of
red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
How do bone marrow stem cells help
certain patients?
 Patients
with some blood illnesses make blood
cells that are damaged and defective
 This is due to defective bone marrow stem cells
 Replacing their bone marrow stem cells with new
and healthy ones allows them to have a continuous
supply of healthy and functional blood cells
What are the most common
blood related illnesses?
Malignant
Different types of Leukemia (AML, CML,etc.)
 Lymphoma

Non- malignant
Aplastic anemia
 Genetically inherited anemias
 Fanconi anemia

What is the usual treatment?
 Chemotherapy and
Destroy cancerous cells
 Potential
Radiation therapy:
patient goes into remission
problems
Side
effects: treatment may destroy healthy cells
Relapse: sometimes the cancer returns
 Stem cell transplantation:
Establish healthy stem cells in the patient’s bone marrow
Healthy stem cells produce healthy blood cells
What is required for a transplant?
Bone Marrow Stem Cells
From volunteer donors
Can anyone be a donor?
Yes, but with some restrictions:
Age: between 18 and 50
Health: generally healthy
(no cancer, cardiovascular disease, HIV,
infectious diseases, hepatitis, etc.)
Can any donor donate to any patient?
Yes
Provided their transplantation
proteins (HLA) match
What is HLA?
It is a set of proteins that:
Characterizes the tissue of each person
Is determined by each person’s genetics
and is inherited from both parents
Is unique to each individual —much like
a fingerprint
Who are the best candidates to match
patient HLA type?
1.
2.
3.
4.
Self (in some diseases)
Identical twin
A sibling sharing both parents
Unrelated individual from the same
ethnic group (even better if from the
same region)
Why are donors from the same
ethnic groups more likely to be a
better match?
Members of the same ethnic group are
genetically closer to each other
Therefore, they are more likely to have
the same HLA profile
What happens if donor and
patient are not well matched?
Rejection
The patient’s immune system
attacks and destroys the transplant
Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD)
The transplanted tissue
attacks and destroys the patient
How does one become a donor?
Three simple steps:
 Fill
out a short form-strictly confidential
(this becomes your official consent form)
 Donate a small sample for tissue typing
 Donate stem cells when matched with a patient
What is in the form to fill out?
Your address and contact information
 Your brief medical history

(all info in these forms is strictly confidential)
How to donate a sample for HLA
typing?
Mouth swab

The inside of your cheek is swabbed to obtain some
tissue
or
Blood sample

A very small amount of blood (few drops) is collected
from a vein
What is done with the collected
sample?
 DNA is
extracted from the sample
 DNA is analyzed for transplantation proteins (HLA
type)
 HLA type is entered in our data base (with full
information about donor)
 The database is the ABMDR registry
 The database is safe and strictly confidential
What if a donor matches a patient?
 The
donor’s DNA is tested further for higher level
of matching with patient
 If
donor matches 100% and is able to donate:
 undergoes
extensive medical checkup
 if fit, becomes an actual donor
What is the procedure of an actual
donation?
 The
donor is given a stimulant to increase the
number of stem cells circulating in blood
 S/he is hooked up to an IV in each arm
 Blood is drawn from one arm
 Stem cells circulating in blood are separated
and collected via an apheresis machine
 The blood is returned to the donor via the IV
in the other arm
You mean this does not involve my spine?
cartilage
 Correct
 Bone
marrow stem cells
spongy
bone
reside in the spongy part
(contains
marrow)
of the hip bone
 But some also circulate in blood.
These cirulating stem cells are
the ones that are harvested
compact
bone
A donor in the process of giving her
bone marrow stem cells
An apheresis machine used for
harvesting stem cells
Where and how is the “harvesting”
performed?
In the nearest hospital or facility
equipped for the procedure
(including ABMDR’s Harvesting
Center)
 On an outpatient basis

Is there any surgery involved?
No
The donor is not even anesthetized
S/he is fully conscious and awake
How long does it take to
“harvest” the stem cells?
3-4 hours
Are there any risks or adverse effects
to the donor?

No, it is a simple procedure
 It
is painless
 Only excess stme cells are harvested
 These cells are replenished within 2-3 weeks
 Some
donors experience mild flu-like
symptoms for a few days (the effect of the
booster treatment)
Are there any costs incurred by the
donor?
No
 Tissue typing costs are covered by
ABMDR
 Stem cell harvesting costs are
covered by the patient’s insurance
Who can I contact to become a donor
or to have my questions answered?
Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry
www.abmdr.am
Los Angeles: 323-663-3609 [email protected]
Yerevan: (374 10) 20 83 11 [email protected]
Be a donor
Save a life
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