Bone marrow is essential to life. It contains haematopoietic stem cells, which are at the origin of all blood cells.
Bone marrow has a vital role in the fonctionning of the human body. It is made of special cells, called haematopoietic stem cells, that produce all blood cells :
- red cells, which bring oxygen to the tissues ;
- white cells, which fight against infections ;
- platelets, which stop bleeding.
Bone marrow also produces the immunity cells, called lymphocytes, responsible for identifying and destroying any foreign element introduced into the body.
It is present throughout the entire skeleton, with particularly high concentrations in flat bones such as those of the pelvis, easily accessible.
For some diseases, bone marrow transplantation allows patients to be cured.
Bone marrow can be collected from a compatible donor, either directly from the back of the pelvis under general anaesthetic or by apheresis from the inculating blood after a drug treatment administered a few days earlier.
The removed bone marrow cells are quickly replaced in a few days.
Haematopoietic stem cells are found not only in bone marrow, but also in peripheral blood (after stimulation produced by a drug injection) and in placental blood (also known as “cord blood”).
Bone marrow transplantation consists in transfusing into the patient a given quantity of haematopoietic stem cells collected from a compatible donor in perfect health.