Making Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplantation Available to Patients in Developing Countries: The Mexican Experience

Guillermo J. Ruiz-Argüelles*, 1, David Gómez-Almaguer2
1 Centro de Hematología y Medicina Interna, Clínica Ruiz de Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
2 Hospital Universitario de Monterrey, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Monterey, Mexico

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© 2008 Ruiz-Argüelles et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Centro de Hematología y Medicina Interna, 8B Sur 3710, 72530, Puebla, Mexico; E-mail:


Non-myeloablative allogeneic stem cell transplantation (NST) has been one of the most exciting developments in the treatment of hematologic malignancies in the last years. Since 1999, we have chosen to employ in México a regimen to conduct NST, introducing some changes with the main goal of decreasing the cost of the procedure and in turn, making it available to a larger number of patients in developing countries. Using this method we have done over 400 allografts in Latin American patients with different both malignant and non-malignant diseases: Chronic myelogenous leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, myelodysplasia, thalassemia major, relapsed Hodgkin ´s disease, Blackfan-Diamond syndrome, adrenoleukodystrophy, Hunter´s syndrome, aplastic anemia and several solid tumors. In the whole group, the median granulocyte recovery time to 0.5 x 109/L was 13 days, whereas the median platelet recovery time to 20 x 109/L was 12 days. Around one third of the patients did not need red blood cell transfusions and also one third did not need platelet transfusions. In more than 70% of cases the procedure could be completed totally on an outpatient basis. The follow up time of the patients ranges between 30 and 2000 days. Approximately 50% of the allografted individuals have developed acute graft versus host disease (GVHD), whereas around 30% developed chronic GVHD. The median post-allograft overall survival (SV) has not been reached and the 2000 day overall SV is 54%, the 100-day mortality being 16%. In the whole group of patients, the median cost of each NST was 18 000 USD, a figure which contrasts with that informed from developing countries. More than 95% of the patients who were allografted in México and Latin America using this method could not have afforded the cost of a conventional or more expensive stem cell transplant; accordingly, this procedure has enabled doctors in México and Latin America to offer this therapeutic approach to a larger number of individuals.