Aplastic anemia is a condition in which your body stops producing sufficient blood cells. It can result in extreme fatigue, high risk of blood infections and uncontrolled bleeding. Slowing down or stopping of the production of blood cells can occur due to damage caused to the bone marrow. Bone marrow, that produces stem cells in the body, can get temporarily or permanently injured due to extensive radiation or chemotherapy, use of certain drugs, viral infection and exposure to toxic chemicals. Some mild cases can be treated by over the counter medications whereas severe cases may need to be treated after hospitalization. Blood transfusion or stem cell transplant are some treatments available for treating aplastic anemia.
Bone marrow stimulant drugs like sargramostim, filgrastim, pegfilgrastim and epoetin alfa help in stimulating the bone marrow to produce new blood cells. Generally, blood transfusions are done to control bleeding and relieve anemia symptoms. They do not really cure aplastic anemia but can provide blood cells that your bone marrow is not producing. You may have to undergo several blood transfusion sessions depending on your condition. Stem cell transplant is the only permanent treatment for people suffering from aplastic anemia. The bone marrow is rebuilt from the stem cells of a donor. Firstly, your diseased bone marrow will be depleted by radiation or chemotherapy. Healthy stem cells of the donor will then be injected intravenously into the blood stream. They migrate to the bone marrow cavities and start generating new blood cells. It is not easy to find a suitable donor. Also, in some cases your body might reject the treatment leading to life threatening situations.
If you experience frequent and prolonged infections, rapid or irregular heart rate, constant dizziness, headache and fatigue, nosebleeds and bleeding gums or prolonged bleeding from cuts; you must consult a doctor and get your condition thoroughly checked.
Everybody is a candidate for stem cell transplant or can find a donor. Generally, only young people are able to go through it successfully.
Bone marrow stimulant drugs may cause temporary redness, irritation or itching in your skin. Your body might reject stem cell transplant and result in life threatening conditions.
The drugs that you consume before and after the treatment may weaken your immune system. You must see a doctor at the very first sign of infection, such as fever. Do not ignore any such signs. Avoid outdoor activities that may result in cuts or falls. Try to maintain good hygienic conditions. Keep distance of sick people. Wash your hands regularly. Take all precautions so as not to catch any infection.
Time period of recovery depends on the severity of your condition.
Bone marrow transplant can cost between ₹2000000 - ₹3500000.
The results of the treatment may or may not be permanent. In many cases, aplastic anemia may return as soon as you stop taking the prescribed drugs.
There are no alternatives to this treatment.