SEARCH AND ACTIVATION OF BONE MARROW TRANSPLANTS
When pharmaceuticals, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation have not worked, bone marrow transplant (BMT) is the next step.
What it is all about
Bone marrow is a primary organ producing new blood cells. When bone marrow is not producing enough new blood cells, it cannot be ‘repaired’ but new bone marrow can be transplanted. Transplant procedure looks very similar to blood transfusion, however tremendous work is behind the apparent simplicity.
If bone marrow donor is found among family – siblings are most frequent donors, virtually all transplantation costs are covered from the state budget.
However, every year dozens of children in Russia do not have a match among the relatives. Since the registry of bone marrow donors in Russia cannot fulfil all the needs, searches in international registries must be carried out. Gift of Life works closely with one of the largest bone marrow donor registries in Europe – Stefan Morsch Foundation.
The lengthy and meticulous search can cost around £4,500-5,000 per child. Or more, if the search lasts longer – it could take up to a year. Bone marrow donors do not ask for payment but the procedure itself is expensive, close to £10,000 per procedure. This includes donor’s travel to the hospital, accommodation and other expenses, medical fees and insurance.
The total cost of a bone marrow transplant is usually around £15,000. However, in certain cases, it can be much higher. For instance, a donor for Masha Dyatlova was eventually found in the U.S. and total costs amounted to £20,000. A donor for Valeria Lee was found in Japan and the total cost was approximately £28,000.
Our sister charity in Russia Podari Zhizn spent approximately £900,000 on bone marrow transplants in 2020.
BMT in Russia
Every year, approximately 1,000 of children with cancer in Russia may need to undergo transplantations. The good news is that in the past ten years the number of transplants in paediatrics in Russia has increased by about 80%.
The main clinics where the procedure is carried out are the Dmitry Rogachev National Medical Research Centre in Moscow, the Raisa Gorbacheva Institute of Children’s Haematology and Transplantology in St. Petersburg, Regional Perinatal Centre CSTO number 1 in Yekaterinburg, the Morozov children’s city hospital in Moscow.
The recent development of transplant technologies from parents (haploidentical transplantation) have made the procedure more accessible. However, Gift of Life patients regularly need the charity’s support with unrelated bone marrow donors search in international registries as dozens of children don’t have matching donors among relatives. Especially when rare genotypes are involved.
Bone marrow transplant is an inevitable part of therapeutic regimen for the treatment of many cancer patients. It can save hundreds of lives every year if we have enough funding to pay for it. You can help and give hope to children fighting cancer.
Gift of Life and Podari Zhizn patients share their stories of recovery after bone marrow transplants.