Bone marrow transplantation today is a gold standard treatment for several diseases. For tens of thousands of people, the ability to have this type of procedure has meant the difference between life and death. One of the key reasons this is possible is the pioneering work done by City of Hope medical center near Los Angeles.
Nearly 35 years ago, City of Hope physicians performed one of the nation’s first successful transplants. Bone marrow or stem cell transplantation—collectively known as hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT)—is a complex, often lifesaving procedure in which stem cells are used to help cure cancer. It is most often used for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
On Jan. 13, 2011, City of Hope performed its 10,000th transplant, becoming one of the first institutions in the world to reach this milestone. The patient had advanced leukemia and received stem cells from an unrelated volunteer donor who was a compatible match.
“Day to day, our work is all about a single life at stake that we’re trying to save,” said Stephen J. Forman, M.D., chair of the Department of Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. “Reaching 10,000, you think about the many people—children and adults—who have benefited, and the many wonderful people who from City of Hope’s care and research have come here trusting us to care for them, hoping for a cure.”
City of Hope performed its first successful bone marrow transplant in 1976 on a young college student from Indiana who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. His physician told him he should prepare himself for inevitable death. But his cousin, a physician in Los Angeles, knew that City of Hope was launching a bone marrow transplant program. The young student went to City of Hope to undergo a bone marrow transplant, and he has remained in remission for 35 years.
City of Hope is designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the highest honor bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, and performs nearly 500 bone marrow transplant procedures each year.