The Common Side Effects of Stem Cell Transplants
A stem cell transplants is a procedure wherein a patient’s body is infused with some healthy stem cells. The cells can either be acquired from the patient’s body itself or from a donor.
That being said, the main transplants that have been approved by the FDA are bone marrow transplants and stem cell transplants for treating knee-related injuries.
For the purposes of this article, I will only talk about bone marrow transplants since it is the most well-documented treatment plan using stem cells today.
If you’re considering this type of transplant or if you know someone who is going to undergo the procedure, here are some of the common side effects that you might experience:
Before you receive the stem cell transplant, your body will need to be conditioned first. Otherwise known as Priming, your body will receive a couple of chemotherapy and radiation therapy sessions. The said procedures are required so that the body will be rid of any traces of cancer cells. This is also the point where the body is at its weakest point which includes the weakening of the bone marrow.
And, since the body is weak, the immune system is also weak, which is why this phase is known as the conditioning phase because an active immune system might reject the infused stem cells.
The side effects you might experience during this stage include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, mouth sores, hair loss, skin rashes, and occasional breathing problems.
The Infusion Process
This is where the healthy stem cells are transplanted into your body. Some of the most common side effects include headaches, fevers, flushing, and nausea.
Side effects can be felt in as fast as an hour after the transplantation procedure. But again, there is a chance that you might not experience any of the side effects at all.
This is the stage where the stem cells have assimilated themselves in your bone marrow, thus starting the blood cell production process.
When the stem cells are in the engraftment stage, you will experience occasional nausea and vomiting, and possibly even some headaches. In worse cases, you might have some trouble sleeping.
Post-Transplant and Recovery
This period happens days after the transplantation procedure. Some of the most common side effects that happen during this stage include lack of appetite, fatigue, lack of energy, weight loss/ weight gain, skin rashes, hair loss, and swelling.
A few days after the transplant, you will still stay in the recovery room where a team of nurses will monitor your vitals as well as your blood count as well. It is also at this time where they will give you some medicines to help you in case there is an infection that might occur.
After a few days, you will be allowed to go back to your home. Again, the stem cells and your immune system will not be functioning normally as of yet, so you need to be put in a place where there is little to no pollution. In other words, you need to be contained in a clean environment.
In the event that you experience severe discomfort, it would be in your best interest to contact your doctor immediately.