Donating bone marrow to cure sickle c... - Living with Sickl...

Living with Sickle Cell Disease
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Donating bone marrow to cure sickle cell anaemia

A bone marrow transplant is the only complete cure for treating sickle cell anaemia. This is a kind of treatment in which the patient’s bone marrow is changed to new healthy bone marrow. This is done either by collecting the patient’s own bone marrow or that of a donor. In the case of sickle cell disease collecting the bone marrow from the patient's own body is not advisable since the genetic condition does not permit collection of healthy bone marrow. However healthy bone marrow from a matching donor can be used for the transplant.

Who can donate?

A person whose HLA matches with that of the patient can be a potential donor. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) are proteins or markers that are found in most cells of your body. The body’s immune system uses these markers to recognize which cells belong to your body and which do not. An HLA type matching of at least 8/10 is necessary for qualifying as a bone marrow donor for sickle cell anaemia.

In BMT treatment, the diseased bone marrow is killed by chemotherapy and radiation and healthy bone marrow from a matched donor is infused into the patient’s body. The healthy bone marrow replaces the diseased marrow, grows inside the patient’s body and produces healthy blood cells.

To Know more

2 Replies

Hi anjana_indheal, it's truly an interesting concept but, sounds really frightening to me. So many questions, what was that about chemotherapy and what would the potential recovery period be for both parties? Has this been tried on SC patients if so what is the success rate for both women and men? What are the potential and most common side effects? Certainly more questions will arise as I mull this over.

Nice to know that there are options out for those who may want to participate.

Thanks, Living Life


Hi Living-Life,

Thank you for raising your concerns. First and foremost let me assure you that bone marrow transplant is much beyond a concept now. The first clinical bone marrow transplant dates back to 1970s. It is successfully being carried out as a curative procedure for many diseases like the leukaemias, lymphomas, myelomas, other blood cancers, as well as genetic conditions like sickle cell anaemia, aplastic anaemia, thallasemia and many more. BMT is more of a medical procedure than a surgical procedure. The whole procedure is more like a blood donation using peripheral veins. In some type of BMT only general anaesthesia is given to the donor. The main risk in a BMT procedure is the complications that can arise due to an infection post the procedure. This is mainly due to the fact that during BMT one's immune system is brought down to the minimum to avoid any rejection of the transplanted bone marrow. Hence it is mandatory that the team and hospital handling the procedure adhere to strict infection control practices. Under the guidance of an expert team and a good hospital, BMT is not a procedure to be scared of. In India, there are more than 30 hospitals who have the transplant license and they have successfully completed more than 10,000 cases.

Anjana (


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