oa Professional Nursing Today - Bone marrow transplantation : a journey from despair to hope : oncology
The devastation caused by nuclear warfare in 1945 provoked an urgency to study the effects of irradiation on the human body. High doses or lethal irradiation causes bone marrow failure and without a functioning bone marrow, long-term survival is not possible. Experimentation on bone marrow transplantation was initially done on animals and slowly progressed to humans. The first attempts were unsuccessful and many believed that attempts to transplant bone marrow in human beings were not justified.
However, the pressing need for a viable treatment option for a variety of haematological disorders continued. As successful reports of transplants from HLA-identical siblings in children emerged, researchers were encouraged to continue their efforts. The gradual increase in knowledge, new technologies and improved results, has resulted in a rapid increase in bone marrow transplantation worldwide, suggesting that a curative option has become a reality.
Blood or marrow stem cell transplantation involves the transfer of stem cells to establish haematopoiesis (blood formation). Unlike the transfusion of blood products whose benefits are temporary, stem cells are intended to survive long-term. Haematopoietic stem cells can be obtained from the bone marrow, peripheral blood or from umbilical cord blood. The donor may be the patient (autograft), a matched sibling (allograft) or a matched, unrelated donor.
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