When the team at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis performed its first bone marrow transplant in July 1989, the treatment was still relatively new. But three decades later, BMT has long been the standard of care for many cancers as the technology, knowledge and outcomes continue to improve.
By the end of the year, nearly 1,000 patients will have undergone a bone marrow transplant at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, which the team plans to celebrate with a BMT patient and family reunion from 4 – 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21, on the 7th-floor Cancer Institute.
“These are patients with aggressive blood cancers such as lymphomas, leukemia and myelomas and some solid tumor cancers who most likely would not survive long term without this intervention,” says Patty Bluml, the advanced practice nurse who helps coordinate the care offered by the Blood and Marrow Transplant Center of Kansas, a partnership among Ascension Via Christi, Cancer Center of Kansas and the American Red Cross.
Forty to 50 adult patients a year now undergo transplantation through the center, which is accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy, which sets the standards for transplant programs. In addition, it is certified as a regional apheresis center by the National Marrow Donor Program.
“Identifying a donor, undergoing high-dose chemotherapy and/or total body irradiation, being infused with healthy blood stem cells and waiting for them to develop and grow takes at least four to eight weeks,” says Bluml, noting that the nearest BMT centers are in Kansas City and Oklahoma City. “So having a close-to-home program is crucial to the patients we serve from throughout Kansas.”
Bassam Mattar, MD, is the center’s director, leading a team that includes fellow Cancer Center of Kansas oncologists Phu Truong, MD, Quoc Truong, MD, Seth Page, MD, and Dennis Moore Jr., MD.For them, it's a privilege to be a part of a program that has benefitted so many Kansas families.
“Over the years, the way bone marrow transplantation is being done has changed, but our commitment to those we serve has not,” says Dr. Mattar. "As new and exciting treatments continue to evolve, we will remain on the forefront so that Kansas patients can access the care they need close to home."
If you or a loved one were the recipient of a bone marrow transplant at Ascension Via Christi, you are invited to come mingle, enjoy light refreshments and celebrate life with others who have traveled the same path. For more information, call 316-268-5868.