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World Marrow Donor Day (WMDD): What Is Bone Marrow Transplant? Importance And Side Effects

Observed on the third Saturday of September, World Marrow Donor Day (WMDD) is supported by the WMDA (World Marrow Donor Association) and EBMT (European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation), the day is actually a day to thank all donors worldwide - unrelated donors, family donors, cord blood donors, donors who already have donated and donors on the waitlist.

Along with that, the WMDA aims to raise awareness on being a stem cell donor and the impact of blood stem cell transplantation to patients' lives. On this World Marrow Donor Day, we will look at what the procedure of bone marrow transplant is.

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The Importance Of Bone Marrow Transplant

India has the third-highest number of haematological cancer [including Hodgkin's Lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (blood cell tumours), various types of leukaemia (blood cancers) and multiple myeloma (cancer of plasma cells)] patients in the world after the US and China [4]. And, bone marrow transplants, sometimes, are the only life-saving interventions for people suffering from such conditions [5].

However, with the term 'bone marrow donation,' people often conjure images of doctors drilling into their spine and excruciating pain, whereas bone marrow donation is a simple, safe and relatively painless process.

There are many factors that determine the need for a bone marrow transplant, such as [6];

• the type of cancer,

• stage of cancer,

• how aggressive the cancer is,

• whether it has responded to any prior treatments,

• and age and general physical condition of the patient.

Likewise, after receiving a bone marrow transplant, you may find it difficult to eat food on a regular basis. However, it is highly important that you not lose the relationship with food simply because it is highly critical that you eat regularly to keep your body healthy and functioning [7].

Choose to eat food with high amounts of calories because, as you may not be able to eat food that often, eating calories will help maintain a healthy balance and provide you with energy [8].

Eat food that can be easily chewed. You can also add gravy or sauce to ease the digestion process. Once after eating, sit straight for at least 15 minutes so that there is no chance of indigestion.

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Side Effects Of Bone Marrow Transplant

A bone marrow transplant is considered a major medical procedure and can lead to both acute and long-term side effects [9]. An acute side effect would be anything that affects the patient within 30 - 100 days of the transplant.

The acute side effects of a bone marrow transplant are as follows [10]:

• Drop in blood pressure Fall in blood counts and haemoglobin levels

• Fever, chills, headache and pain

• Shortness of breath

• Diarrhoea

• Infections that can be viral, fungal or bacterial

• Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), which is a condition in which donor cells attack your body

• Graft failure, which occurs when transplanted cells don't begin producing new cells as planned

The long-term side effects of a bone marrow transplant are as follows [11][12]:

• Infertility

• Changes in the skin and oral cavity

• Increased infection rates

• Diarrhoea

• Early menopause for women

• Thyroid problems

• Lung or bone damage

• Risk of developing another cancer

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On A Final Note…

It is important to discuss at length with the treating doctor on any concerns the patient may have regarding bone marrow transplant before opting for the procedure to weigh the risks and complications against the potential benefits of this procedure.

Read more about: bone marrow side effects