Stem Cell Donor Celebrates Life of Man He Helped Save

He doesn’t start medical school until August, but Matthew Churitch has already helped save a patient – and gained valuable insight into the role that hope and kindness can play in recovery. Churitch visited Dana-Farber last month with Peter Karalekas, to whom he donated stem cells two years ago. Karalekas, 76, who also underwent chemotherapy … Read more

Platelet Donations Mean Sisterly Bonding for These Siblings

They grew up in the same house and still vacation together each summer, but Pam and Paula Gorgone do some of their best sisterly bonding when they’re giving platelets. Every other Thursday, with rare exceptions, the siblings sit side-by-side at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center and donate platelets. They chat, watch the news, and … Read more

What Care Do I Need After a Stem Cell Transplant?

A stem cell transplant can be a lifesaving treatment for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, or certain blood-related disorders. In many cases, however, transplants increase patients’ risk for an array of long-term health problems, often caused by the high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy used prior to the transplant. Dana-Farber’s Adult Stem Cell Survivorship … Read more

Battling Cancer: Restructuring and Enjoying Your New Life

By Rich Rothman In September 2013, I had a bone marrow transplant that doctors advised was the only potential cure for a blood cancer known as MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome). Although we lived in New York City, we chose to have the transplant done at Dana Farber because we were impressed with everything we saw and … Read more

He Lost His Sight to Cancer, But Not His Vision of a Full Life

When Tim Conners collected his wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2012 at the age of 18, he was blind from childhood leukemia that had spread to his optic nerve. A football player and wrestler who’d never been an outdoorsman, he asked to meet Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb the Seven Summits … Read more

The Latest Advances Against Hematologic Cancers

Treatment of blood-related, or hematologic, cancers is seizing on insights into the basic genetic wiring of cancer cells and the body’s system for finding and attacking those cells. Research presentations at the annual American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting in December gave evidence of how broad, and rapid, the progress is. Targeted therapies, new combinations … Read more

Autologous vs. Allogenic Stem Cell Transplants: What’s the Difference?

A stem cell transplant is a procedure during which doctors either replace diseased or ineffective stem cells with healthy new stem cells or allow high-dose treatment for lymphoma, some testicular cancers, and other diseases. It is often lifesaving for patients with blood cancer and serious blood disorders. A person may need a transplant for a … Read more

Stem Cell Donor, Recipient Meet Up – Seven Years after Their Cells

Sometimes the best things are worth waiting for. Charles “Chuck” Vanada and Tobias Gillmann, connected across 3,700 miles and one life-altering procedure, can attest to that. In September 2009, Vanada – then a 48-year-old non-Hodgkin lymphoma patient – received a stem cell transplant at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), thanks to Gillmann, 34, who six … Read more

What is Haploidentical Stem Cell Transplantation?

Medically reviewed by Joseph H. Antin, MD A treatment for patients with blood-related cancers and certain blood disorders, stem cell transplantation involves replacing a patient’s unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy ones. Patients are first treated with chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation therapy, to wipe out or diminish the bone marrow and lymph nodes where cancers such … Read more

Newborn Screening Saves Baby from “Bubble Boy” Disease – Before He Ever Gets Sick

Happy to have given birth in January 2015 to two seemingly healthy boys, Levi and Colton, after an uneventful pregnancy, Kala Looks gave little thought to the routine heel prick of newborn screening. At 23 and 24, she and her husband, Phillip, were high school sweethearts starting a family with a pair of fraternal twins. … Read more

Putting College – and Field Hockey – on Hold for a Bone Marrow Transplant

By Dana Mendes Like many high school students, I was eager to start a new chapter of my life after graduating in 2015. I had committed to play field hockey at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, that fall, and spent the summer working out alongside my new teammates – determined to prove myself on the … Read more

Tips for Celebrating the Holidays after a Stem Cell Transplant

The holidays can be a happy time of family gatherings and traditions, but the combination of extended family and friends and cold and flu season can be dangerous for patients who are immunocompromised following recent stem cell transplants to treat blood cancers including multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and related disorders. “When transplant patients leave the … Read more

What Is a Reduced-Intensity Stem Cell Transplant?

A reduced-intensity stem cell transplant, also known as a ‘mini’ transplant, is a modified form of a procedure that replaces a patient’s blood-forming stem cells with those of a compatible donor. Mini-transplant patients receive lower doses of chemotherapy than are used in a full-intensity, or myeloablative, transplant, and, in general, receive no radiation therapy. The … Read more

Daughter Donates Stem Cells to Honor Dad’s Successful Transplant

Lauren Marsden joined DKMS/Delete Blood Cancer Registry during freshman orientation at St. Anselm’s College for the same reason she majored in nursing: She wanted to help others. What she couldn’t foresee then was how this decision would intersect with her own family’s experience. Two months after Lauren’s graduation in May 2014, her father was diagnosed … Read more

Pediatric Transplant Patients Fight Cancer as Karate Kids

Jessica Madsen wasn’t sure if her daughter, Addy, was ready for karate, until the 4-year-old got the chance to take free lessons in the most surprising place: Her hospital room. Addy and other stem cell transplant recipients at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center are offered free martial arts coaching during their inpatient recovery … Read more

Brother Donates Stem Cells to Sister Battling Leukemia

On September 24, 2015, in a sixth floor room at Boston Children’s Hospital, 5-year-old Logan Lesselroth pressed the button that started the transfer of his newly harvested blood stem cells to his 3-year-old sister, Gianna. “This,” Gianna told him, “is a gift from your body.” The path to that moment and the stem cell transplant’s … Read more

Dana-Farber Staffer Marks Five Years Post-Transplant with Run of a Lifetime

Mary Taber’s marathon training requires a singular focus. It is demanding, solitary, life-affirming – not unlike her treatment five years ago for aplastic anemia and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). Taber, intranet editor at Dana-Farber, will mark five years from her March 2011 bone marrow transplant by taking to the storied Boston Marathon® route on April … Read more

FDA Approval of Defibrotide Brightens Outlook for Stem Cell Transplant Patients

Patients and Dana-Farber researchers alike welcomed this week’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a new drug for a potentially fatal side effect of stem cell transplants. The approval means patients can receive the drug, defibrotide, as standard therapy for hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD) of the liver, a dangerous condition that sometimes follows transplantation … Read more

Aplastic Anemia or Dyskeratosis Congenita? Unclear Diagnosis Demands a Difficult Decision

Having a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness is heart-wrenching for all parents, but when the diagnosis itself is uncertain, parents can face excruciatingly difficult decisions. This is what Katie and Josh Stevens of Idaho confronted after their son Riley was diagnosed in October 2012 with the blood disorder aplastic anemia, in which the body’s … Read more