Bone Marrow Transplant:

What is Bone Marrow:

Bone marrow is found in the centre of bones and is where blood cells are made. Bone marrow contains the youngest type of blood cell known as a stem cell. As a stem cell ages it becomes a white cell, red cell or platelet. These young stem cells are found in the bone marrow itself, peripheral blood (blood stream) and umbilical cord blood.

What is a Bone Marrow Transplant?

A bone marrow transplant (BMT) replaces diseased or damaged cells with non-cancerous stem cells that can grow healthy new cells. BMT is usually used when cancer treatments have destroyed normal stem cells in the bone marrow. The stem cells can be replaced through BMT. A BMT is also performed when chances for cure with chemotherapy alone are low.

What is GvHD?

GvHD happens when types of white blood cell (T cells) in the donated bone marrow or stem cells attack your own body cells. This happens because the donated cells (the graft) see your body cells (the host) as foreign and attack them.


Fast Facts on Bone Marrow Transplants:

  • 70% of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant do not have a matching donor in their family
  • A bone marrow transplant can save the life of someone battling leukemia, lymphoma or another blood cancer. You can fight cancer just by swabbing your cheek
  • Young people 18-25 years old are the bone marrow donors needed the most
  • Donating bone marrow can be as easy and painless as giving blood
  • Patients are most likely to match someone who shares their ethnic background


CAR T-cell therapy. A type of treatment in which a patient’s T cells (a type of immune cell) are changed in the laboratory so they will bind to cancer cells and kill them.

Blood from a vein in the patient’s arm flows through a tube to an apheresis machine (not shown), which removes the white blood cells, including the T cells, and sends the rest of the blood back to the patient. Then, the gene for a special receptor called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) is inserted into the T cells in the laboratory. Millions of the CAR T cells are grown in the laboratory and then given to the patient by infusion. The CAR T cells are able to bind to an antigen on the cancer cells and kill them.


What is an Organ Transplant?

You may need an organ transplant if one of your organs have failed. This may have happened because you are born with a physical problem or a disease that caused organ failure. Others may have contracted a disease or acquired an injury. Doctors remove an organ from another person and place it in your body. The organ may come from a living donor or a donor who has died. Organs that can be transplanted are the heart, intestine, kidney, liver, lung and pancreas. There is often a long wait time for organ transplant because doctors want to match recipients and donors closely to reduce the risk of rejection after transplant. Rejection happens when your immune system attacks the new organ. If you have a transplant, you must take anti-rejection drugs the rest of your life to help your body from rejecting the new organ.

Lung Transplant:

Video: A lung transplant process:

Fast Facts on Organ Transplants:

  • One donor can save up to 8 lives and benefit more than 75 people
  • All major religions APPROVE of organ and tissue donation
  • Anyone can become a organ donor at any age
  • A 90% majority of Canadians support organ and tissue donation but less than 25% have made plans to donate
  • There are 1600 people added to the organ transplant waitlist every year
  • There has been a tissue donation by someone older than 100 and an organ donation by someone older than 90
  • In the week following the Humboldt tragedy the online registrations were up almost 1,000 per cent
  • It is estimated that the province of Ontario alone loses approximately $100 Million dollars every year supporting the care of those on the organ donation waiting list for a kidney
  • 76% of the Canadian donation waiting list are in need of a kidney transplant. The next most in demand organs are the liver, at 10%; the lungs at 6%; and the heart at 4%
  • More than 85% of Ontarians are in favour of organ donation but only 1 in 3 have registered their consent to donate