This BMT Basics website is a consumer guide to blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) for patient families and those who support them. The idea for the site grew out of my own personal experiences as someone who has undergone a BMT, and my professional experience as an advocate whose works focuses on helping to end health and healthcare inequalities. Despite having health insurance and access to specialty medical care, plus the training to know how to navigate health systems, it soon became obvious that it was very difficult to find the basic information and supports so urgently needed about this complex and potentially life-saving procedure. In addition, structural barriers beyond information and access still stand in the way of many who could benefit from this treatment.
Receiving the news that you, or a loved one, is suffering from a life-threatening illness, often a form of cancer, is difficult enough. It can be even more overwhelming to learn that something called a blood cell or marrow transplant is recommended. While most people, fortunately, will never need to know what a BMT is, the lack of awareness about the procedure makes the learning curve more difficult. Not only is a crash course needed on the medical aspects, but it is an intense family crisis too. While the goal, of course, is a cure, everyone involved needs all the help they can get as they embark on a journey through one of the most complicated and costly of medical procedures.
In some cases, there may be only a very short span of weeks or months before plans are underway for transplant, while in other cases, there may be months or even years to plan ahead. BMT is not just a one-time event, but is a process that requires both the efforts of an entire medical team and the equally important efforts of the patient’s family and loved ones.
BMT Basics is not a medical website, but aims to explain the essentials including:
- what a BMT is and resources on how to get one
- why most patients need BMT blood cell donors and how they are found
- the role of demographics on possibilities of finding a donor
- what can be done to end disparities in the donor pool
- BMT logistics, costs, and tips on bills and health insurance
- possible assistance resources and how to check them out
In addition, BMT Basics offers a wealth of practical information on understanding the procedure itself, and how to meet the many non-medical needs of the patient and the entire family. Extensive references are included to sources of medical information about BMT and the diseases and conditions it is used to treat. This website also contains specific resource information for residents of Washington state.