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A bone transplant involves the surgical transfer of bone marrow or tissue from a donor to the recipient. The donated tissue or marrow may be obtained from a living or deceased donor, or in specialized situations the patient may be able to have tissue collected before the transplant so that it can be transferred from one area of the body to another. A living donor is usually released from the hospital a day or two following the bone transplant, although the recipient typically has a much longer recovery period. Graft failure, organ damage, and infection are among the possible complications arising from this type of medical procedure. Questions or concerns about the benefits and risks of a bone transplant in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
Bone marrow is a type of tissue found inside the bones and is responsible for the production of various types of blood cells. When this tissue is not able to produce enough healthy blood cells due to cancer or other disease processes, a transplant may become necessary. This type of bone transplant usually involves a living donor, although the patient may be able to have bone marrow harvested before medical procedures such as radiation or chemotherapy so that it can be transferred at a later date.
When bone tissue other than marrow are needed for a bone transplant, it may be harvested from a deceased donor. In some cases, a living donor may be used, or a graft may be taken from another part of the patient's body and transferred to the injured area. The transplant is usually performed by a type of doctor known as an orthopedist, who specializes in the treatment of muscle and bone disorders.
Regardless of the type of bone transplant used, a careful and thorough screening process is performed to ensure the best possible match for the recipient. Prescription medications may need to be taken for the remainder of the recipient's life, especially if the donated tissue did not come from the patient, in order to reduce the risks of rejection. If a living donor is used for the transplant, recovery typically takes just a few days or weeks. The recipient of the donated tissue may need several months of recovery, depending on the underlying cause for the bone transplant. A member of the medical staff should be contacted with any specific questions concerning the procedure and recovery process.