Long time lurker, first time poster here. I’ve had two bone marrow transplants, the latest one in February of this year, so I thought I’d weigh in on this.
My first transplant was autologous, so blood type wasn’t a problem. The second transplant involved an anonymous donor. Type matching was done by some sort of genetic test, not strictly blood type and I was told that it was possible my blood type would change to the donor’s blood type. Ultimately, that wasn’t a factor for me as the donor matched my type.
Oops, too late for what? It can take a while for the donor to be identified. As a white male, it only took about a month to find a match for me, but that’s probably the shortest time possible. About another month for paperwork, testing the donor for any diseases, and setting up a schedule. The actual donation process takes about a week of shots followed by the actual donation. The transplant patient starts their hospital stay at about the same time. I actually had my transplant delayed by several months because the donor was found in late October, and I wanted to wait till the first of the year so I wasn’t in the hospital during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I was in very good health and active before both my transplants. Now I also had a couple months free of chemo before them as well. During the chemotherapy treatments they used to control my Hodgkin’s, I was varying degrees of sick. Now, once you go into the hospital for the actual transplant, you’re stuck there until your blood counts get high enough for it to be relatively safe for you to leave.
I don’t know if you need to know this but I’ll mention it anyway. Bone marrow donation and transplants no longer involve the painful tapping of the actual bones. Instead, the donor is given a shot each day for 5 to 7 days that boosts bone marrow growth, then the excess stem cells are filtered out of the donor’s blood. Takes two IV’s and a few hours reading a book while your blood cycles through a machine. The transplant process is a week of harsh chemo, a day of rest, and then the bone marrow is just dripped into your blood from a standard IV bag. It takes four to six weeks in the hospital for it to attach and grow enough to sustain you between hospital visits.
In followups, they do genetic tests on your blood to see if it matches the donor’s or your’s.
Probably more then you were wanting, but I hope this answers your questions.