What does Stem Cell Transplantation mean?
There are certain conditions which directly affect the blood cells of the body. As a result of which all the functions performed by the blood such as supplying oxygen, nutrients, maintaining immunity etc. does not get done properly. The body becomes weak and shows certain signs& symptoms that show something is not okay.
The stem cell transplantation is one such procedure in which diseased abnormal stem cells are replaced by healthy ones. Stem cells are basically the precursor cells to the blood cells which grow and develop into mature cells.
The only difference between a bone marrow transplant and a stem cell transplant is that in stem cell transplant the cells are transplanted into the peripheral blood rather than the bone marrow. These cells could either be obtained from the patient’s own preserved umbilical cord or placenta, or the bone marrow.
The stem cells are said to be pluripotent in nature which means that they can develop into any type cells when exposed to appropriate stimulus. Hematopoietic stem cells are used to replace the blood-forming cells in the body.
Why does a patient need a Stem Cell Transplant?
There are certain diseases in which the body loses its ability to produce new health and proper functioning stem cells. Or, there is a problem with the existing cells.
Certain genetic conditions such as Sickle Cell Anemia, thalassemia etc. result in the production of abnormal red blood cells. A stem cell transplantation from a healthy individual can help to treat the disease.
Also, certain cancers such as leukemia and lymphomas require stem cell transplant because chemotherapy usually destroys all the viable ones. It is done to restore the body’s ability to produce new healthy blood cells.
Where do we obtain these cells from?
The stem cells can be obtained from the patient itself (autologous transplant), or from a relative or any person who is a match (allogeneic transplant), or from an identical twin if any.
The allogeneic transplant poses a risk of rejection which may require life-long immunosuppressant therapy which usually increases the cost of stem cell transplant.
How much does the Stem Cell Transplant cost?
The costs depend on the disease severity, hospital chosen, exchange rates, transplant technique, doctor’s fees etc. The patient needs to keep a lot of factors in mind such as travel costs, visa costs, follow-up care, eligibility, and also the matching donor.
A regular uncomplicated stem cell transplant costs around 15 lakhs if the donor is a relative. If the patient has to go to the procedure of finding a matching donor and obtaining its stem cell, the cost of the stem cell transplant increases to around 20-25 lakhs more.
All of these costs exclude the accommodation and travel costs which apply for patients who choose India to get their treatments done. This cost is way less than the patients have to pay in developed countries such as USA, UK and the rest of Europe. In India, we provide the same quality of care and expert doctors and physician at around one-sixth the cost in western countries.