Bone marrow transplants are strenuous procedures. Undertaken so that the patient’s ability to create new blood cells for his/her body can be restored, BMTs require usually long periods of care even after leaving the hospital.
The plus point being, the blood cell counts that were declining first – resulting in the BMT – begin to improve and the patient’s immune system regains strength. However, the patient has to experience many months of weakness before he/she can fully enjoy these benefits.
One of the risks is infections. As with every surgery or invasive procedure, infections following the process is a troublesome complication, with the highest probability occurring during the first 100 days after a transplant. It is important the patient is monitored closely by the medical staff for such problems, plus educate the patient as to how to prevent them. Thus, if a patient experiences any of the symptoms linking to an infection, he/she should contact the doctor as soon as possible.
Why do these infections happen? Patients after BMT are subjected to a variety of drugs, that target their immune systems, which promotes healing. However, in the same time, the drugs weakens the body’s natural defences. During this period, infectious agents can invade, causing serious and even life-threatening diseases.
Apart from infection prevention guidelines, it is essential the patient adheres to his/her medication schedule exactly as prescribed by the doctor. Moreover, a patient’s diet should be taken care of, and every BMT patient should abide by the instructions of the medical staff, including ways to properly prepare a healthy meal.
It is not uncommon for patients to go through unpleasant symptoms and complications following a transplant and require readmission into a hospital. These adverse effects are then looked after by the healthcare team of the hospital. Even if there aren’t any complications, it is important the patient stays close to a transplant centre for at least 100 days post-transplant, where they can easily travel to and come back from for regular checkups for his/her development and/or resolution of signs of latent health problems.
As long as one is in the hospital, the patient’s needs will be catered to by the caregiver on duty. But once he/she is discharged, certain tips should be kept in mind to rebuild one’s health like before.
Number one, rest. The tiredness results from the body trying hard to recover from the major procedure its just undergone, so adequate rest is important.
Number two, exercise. Although the fatigue limits one’s ability to move around much, but a walk for a short distance in the beginning suffices, and as the strength returns, so does the capability to do more.
Number three, patience. The prolonged recovery time gets most patients aggravated, but they need to know that their bodies need their time, so it should be given.
Number four, family care. The ones around the patient are responsible for aiding him/her regaining his health by relying on the housing and caregiving guidelines given to them by the healthcare staff.
GVD (Graft Versus Host Disease) is another serious complication, whereby the donor’s cells attack those of the patient. This is combated by the use of immune system weakening drugs, called immunosuppressants, for the donor’s immune cells, and the patient should closely follow the medication regime to reduce the reaction and make the transplant a success.
And Apollo Hospitals, the biggest super-specialty hospitals in India, with the highest number of international gold standards for healthcare quality obtained in Asia, has successfully carried out bone marrow transplants for numerous patients to date, with high success rates.