Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the bone marrow.
What does that mean?? What is bone marrow?
Bone marrow is the soft tissue on the inside of bones. It produces new blood cells, basically of 3 different types:
Red blood cells: these cells carry oxygen in the blood, circulating around and taking oxygen to all the tissues in the body.Platelets: these help form clots and stop bleeding.White blood cells: these cells make up the immune system. They are
the cells that fight infections and help the body get rid of bacteria
and viruses and other bad things.
AML is a cancer in which white blood cells are over-produced in the
bone marrow extremely rapidly without enough time for them to mature.
These early white blood cells are called blasts. Blasts normally are
produced slowly and develop into mature white blood cells that fight
infection. In AML, the blasts are produced too rapidly, not allowing
maturation, and these immature cells are not able to properly fight
infection. These are the leukemia cells. Since the bone marrow is busy
producing immature, non-functional leukemia cells, it does not make
enough red blood cells or platelets.
So patients with AML have trouble fighting infections because they
have few functional white blood cells. They also have trouble with
forming clots and bleed very easily because they also have a low number
of normal platelets. This is often manifested by little bruises under
the skin called petechiae.
These patients also can have anemia, or low
red blood cells. This can make people feel short of breath, feel tired
or weak, or look pale.Now two procedures are available for stem cell collection/bone marrow donation.
1. Peripheral blood stem cell collection (MOST current and common
method)…..You are given small injections of Neupogen/Filgrastin for 3
to 5 days to force your marrow to overproduce marrow or stem cells
which are then released into your circulating blood. The stem cells are
collected by removing blood from a vein in your arm, passing it through
a filter system, which collects the stem cells and returns the
remaining blood to you.. This is a 2 to 3 hour procedure.
2. Marrow harvest….You are given light general anesthesia so that
you feel nothing during the procedure. Only 2% to 3% of your marrow is
withdrawn from the large crest of your hipbone through special sterile
needles.This is a 60 minute procedure. You may go home the same day.
Both methods are relatively short in terms of a time commitment. And
basically this means a potential donor could donate stem cells for
Vinay and possibly save his life with just a simple blood draw.