Like every other illness, sickle cell disease comes with pain and discomfort. Sickle cell is known as a genetic defect that affects the structure of the haemoglobin. The bone marrow houses the blood cells that produce haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the oxygen that is responsible for carrying protein. Once the design of the haemoglobin is altered, the blood cells are affected, leading to blocked blood flow, severe pain, stroke, and organ damage.
Sickle cell disease has affected a large number of persons across the world. As a result, scientists began to conduct research that would culminate in proffering solutions to the problem. Hence, the discovery of stem cell transplant. Stem cell transplant has recently been regarded as a possible cure for sickle cell disease. However, scientists recommend that it is most suitable for children below the age of 16 who have not developed complications from the disease. What is a Stem Cell Transplant? How is it done? Why is it done? All these questions and more are what we will be exploring in this post. So, get a pen and notepad as we journey together.
Why A Stem Cell Transplant For Sickle Cell Disease?
This is a medical solution to sickle cell disease requiring bone marrow transfer. As earlier explained, stem cells are found in your bone marrow. Since a defect in the haemoglobin causes sickle cell disease, a change in the bone marrow can give the individual a chance to produce healthy haemoglobin.
How Is A Stem Cell Transplant Done?
Stem cell transplant can only be possible if the child’s bone marrow cells have been destroyed. So, the first thing that must be considered is getting a donor. The donor could be the brother or sister of the Sickle cell individual, i.e., someone who has healthy matching bone marrow with the patient. Once this is done, the sickle cell child will be treated with drugs that can destroy the patient’s bone marrow cells. After the destruction, the donated healthy bone marrow stem cells are injected into a vein.
The donor’s bone marrow on getting into the Sickle cell patient will replace the recipient’s bone marrow. The new cells will restore the child’s immune system and begin to produce normal haemoglobin.
Why Do People Do Stem Cell Transplants?
The answer is straightforward. A stem cell transplant is done to deliver the child from complications. The sickle disease gets worse as the person grows older. Also, it is done because it offers a potential cure for sickle cell disease.
What Do I Expect From A Stem Cell Transplant?
First, you may be required to stay longer than expected in the hospital after the transplant. When you eventually leave the hospital, you will be prohibited from going to public spaces because of germs. Secondly, you will need close monitoring by your physician. This is because you will need to be cross-examined. They will want to know if your body has accepted the blood cells and if there are complications from the transplant. You will also go for regular blood tests and get blood transfusions until your blood cells are matured to make blood on their own.
Generally, you will need constant care, and it may take your immune system years to return to normal entirely. Some of the risks involved in the transplant include complications from completely eradicating the sickle cell patient’s cells. If the cells are not destroyed, they fight the new ones. Seizures, infertility, and life-threatening problems can also occur.
So, consider your options carefully before going for a stem cell transplant.