Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant (PBSCT) or Bone Marrow Transplant
A Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant (PBSCT) or Bone Marrow Transplant is a way of transplanting a new immune system into a person’s body. The immune system consists of stem cells that make all the different kinds of blood cells that perform the functions of the immune system, these are:
- Red blood cells – these carry oxygen around the body
- White blood cells – these cells travel around the body destroying bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells in the body such as cancer cells
- Platelets – these cells help the blood to clot
A transplant involves destroying the persons own immune system and stem cells and replacing them with either:
- Their own previously harvested stock of stem cells or bone marrow – this is called an autologous transplant because a person’s own cells are used.
- Someone else’s stem cells or bone marrow – this is called an allogeneic transplant because someone else’s cells are used.
The donor usually has the same or similar genetic markers to the recipient. Checking for compatibility between donor and recipient is called ‘matching’. The other person can be a close relative such as a brother or sister – a ‘sibling donor’ or someone who is unrelated – this is called a ‘matched unrelated donor’. The name of the procedure depends on how the stem cells are collected from the donor although the principles of the procedures are the same and the effect on the recipient is the same:
Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant (PBSCT)
Peripheral blood stem cells are harvested from the blood. Growth factors are given to the donor to promote production of larger quantities than normal of stem cells for harvesting. These spill out into the peripheral blood from the bone marrow. The stem cells are filtered from the blood using a procedure similar to blood donation. No anaesthetic is required and the process takes several hours. The side effects for the recipient are the same whether bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells are used.
Bone Marrow Transplant
Bone marrow is harvested from bone marrow in the pelvis during a short operation. The side effects of bone marrow harvesting are minimal – for example there may be soreness around the pelvis for a week or so afterwards. The side effects for the recipient are similar whether bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells are used.
Amended February 2009