Anonymous asked in HealthDiseases & ConditionsCancer · 1 decade ago

Acute Leukemia? Bone marrow transplant? please help?

My friend has acute leukemia and she got chemotherapy done already and now she was taking strong medicines. She comes to school for half day usually but she has a lot of doctor appointments. She hasn't really told me much but all i know is that she's going to have a bone marrow transplant soon. What are the risks of this? Can this make her worse?

1 Answer

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The goal of a bone marrow transplant is to replace the patient's damaged bone marrow with healthy donor marrow so that the donor bone marrow takes over in the bones and grows in a healthy way. Unlike organ transplants, there is no actual surgery involved. First, she will be put through an intense round of chemotherapy that will kill off the vast majority of her bone marrow. After the chemotherapy and a recovery period, the donor bone marrow is introduced to the patient through an IV into the blood stream. It finds its way from the blood to the bones where it plants itself and begins to take over and grow normally. It takes a couple months of staying in the hospital in a clean and controlled environment (assuming no major setbacks or GVHD) before the patient is able to go home. Cleanliness is extremely important as the patient has a brand new immune system not much different from a newborn baby's. It takes up to 1-2 years for a full recovery.

    There are many risks to patients receiving a bone marrow transplant. The most common risk is infection. Since the bone marrow produces the blood cells - including white blood cells that fight infection - is so repressed, any bacteria that gets into her system would be devastating. The body cannot fight off infections without white blood cells and antibiotics cannot help since they help the immune system - not replace it. Another of the big risks of the bone marrow transplant is Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD). This is when the body rejects the donor bone marrow and it can be quite ugly, and often fatal. The bone marrow transplant cannot make the leukemia worse, but it gives a smaller chance of relapse. It's a hard decision to make - are the possible benefits worth the risks? In this case it's extremely hard to weigh the two evils. My wife and I did decide with my son's oncologist that a bone marrow transplant could be a good option for him. He has AML leukemia (also an acute leukemia) that's classified as a secondary leukemia since it was most likely caused by previous chemotherapy he had as an infant when he had a Wilms' Tumour. One of my older sons was a partial match to E but not close enough to feel overly confident, but none of our other children matched him well enough to be donors. Because we didn't feel our older son was a close enough match, E has been on the transplant list waiting for a matching donor for 7 months.

    I hope this answers your question, and I hope nothing but the best for your friend. If you have any more questions, feel free to email me ( or send me an IM (crazycanuckj).

    Source(s): My 3 year old son is a warrior who beat a Stage I FH Wilms' Tumour and Secondary Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and is still fighting hard against a Stage III Hepatoblastoma.
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