There are two main types of transplants – Autologous and Allogenic.
Autologous Transplants: This means that the bone marrow or stem cells used for the transplant are one’s own. A little bit of the patient’s bone marrow or stem cells is taken and stored before high dose treatment. When the treatment is over, the bone marrow or stem cells are given back through a vein.
Allogeneic Transplants: In this type of transplant, bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells donated by someone else is used. It is essential that the donor’s tissue matches. The most suitable donor is usually a close relative, most commonly a brother or sister. It is possible to get a good match from an unrelated donor.
Who can be a donor for an allogenic transplant
To determine whether a family member is a match, a DNA test is required. A sample of cells from the inner cheek or a sample of blood is sent to a special DNA testing laboratory. If the person is a match, he or she will undergo a physical examination to determine if he or she is healthy enough to be a donor. The donor’s stem cells must have similar genetic markers as the patient’s. These markers are called human leukocyte antigens or HLA type. It is usual to start by testing the brothers and sisters, as they are likely to provide the best match; parents are not usually good matches. There is a 35 percent chance that a patient will have a sibling whose bone marrow is a perfect match. If the patient has no matched sibling, a donor may be located in one of the international bone marrow donor registries or a mis-matched transplant (Haplo-identical) may be considered.