Bone Marrow Drive for Bonham Warrior

12/20/03 - 'Tis the season for giving, but in Bonham, folks are giving more than toys; they're giving the gift of life.

Bonham High School football player Justin Owen has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. At the high school Saturday, Owen's friends and family braved the needle to donate and try to find a match.

Doctors say the chances of finding an exact match in the community are slim, but it didn't keep several people from giving it a try.

Friends organized the drive, though many weren't able to donate because they're not 18. Extended Web Coverage

Bone Marrow Transplants

Bone Marrow is the spongy tissue found in the cavities of the body's bones, where all the body's blood cells are produced.

Without bone marrow, and the disease fighting blood cells it produces, your immune system will be severely impaired and you will have little defense against even the most common infection.

The goal of a bone marrow transplant is to cure many different types of cancer and disease. The type of transplant depends on who donates the marrow.

Allogeneic transplant: The person giving the bone marrow or stem cells is a genetically matched family member (usually a brother or sister).

Unrelated allogeneic transplant (MUD): The person donating marrow is unrelated to the patient. The chances of finding an unrelated compatible donor from the general population depend on the uniqueness of tissue type. Genetic and ethnic background can also affect the likelihood of finding a donor.

Syngeneic transplant: The person donating the bone marrow or stem cell is an identical twin.

Autologous transplant: The patient donates his/her own bone marrow or stem cells prior to treatment for re-infusion later.

Peripheral blood stem cell transplant: The patient or a donor donates stem cells collected from the circulating blood system instead of from bone marrow. The only difference with this kind of transplant is the source of the stem cells and how they are collected.

Allogeneic, unrelated and syngeneic are most commonly used in persons with diseases affecting the bone marrow, like leukemia, aplastic anemia, and some lymphomas. The basic idea here is to replace the unhealthy marrow with healthy marrow.

Sometimes a disease like leukemia interferes with stem cell growth, causing cells to stop developing or to become defective, or, in some cases, both. Eventually these immature blood cells enter the bloodstream causing the affected person to become seriously ill. A bone marrow transplant offers the gift of like to patients whose marrow is diseased. The transplant is the transfer of healthy marrow from a donor to the patient. The key factor is that the healthy marrow contains healthy stem cells.

Sometimes a patient can give his own marrow back to himself. This is called an autologous transplant. It is often hard to understand how a sick person could be his or her own donor and be healthy again. The autologous transplant (or rescue as it is often known) isn't necessarily performed because there's something wrong with the bone marrow or the stem cell production. It is performed because the dosage of chemotherapy and radiation needed to kill the cancer is so high it will destroy the patients existing bone marrow. Without this marrow there is no immune system and the patient will eventually die. Instead, the patient’s own marrow, collected (harvested) prior to chemo and radiation, is reinjected and the immune system is reestablished. Meanwhile, the hope is that the cancer tumors and cells have been destroyed.

Bone marrow transplantation is a lot different from other types of organ transplants. For one thing, there is no surgery on the day of the procedure. The new marrow doesn't have to be placed inside an incision or stitched into place. It is fed into the body intravenously, like a blood transfusion. Many patients and their families find the actual day of the transplant a bit of an anticlimax. The patient receives the harvested stem cells through and IV and they find their way to the marrow space in the bones. If the transplant goes well, stem cells from the new marrow will begin producing life-sustaining blood cells. In the case of a bone marrow transplant, this takes two to four weeks. In a peripheral stem cell transplant, the stem cells will begin reproducing generally within two weeks.

Source: Bone Marrow Transplant Support Group<>