Bone marrow transplantation risks
Although bone marrow transplantation is sometimes the only available option, risks have to be considered and patients informed about the known complications of marrow transplantation. The most common problems include:
- Severe infections: Patients during the immunodeficiency phase have a nonexistent immune system, and may easily develop severe infections. Most of them are not even possible in healthy individuals; these are the so-called opportunistic infections. The sources of infections are various, but the most serious are hospital-acquired since they are resistant to antibiotics and are therefore difficult to treat. Infections remain the most common cause of death following bone marrow transplantation.
- Cancers: Although bone marrow cancer may be an indication of bone marrow transplantation, other cancers may develop from the radiation used to destroy the old marrow.
- Graft versus host disease: A rejection process of the new transplanted marrow. As mentioned above, here the marrow rejects the whole body rather than vice versa, which necessitates immunosuppressive therapy and could cause severe immunodeficiency.