For College Athlete-Turned Transplant Patient, Life’s Still a Ball

The first time a stem cell transplant recipient leaves his or her quarantined hospital room marks a significant milestone. In the case of Dana Mendes, this move toward independence included an additional step: chasing a ball through the hallways with a stick. For Mendes, 18, it was a return to what she loves. She had … Read more

Despite Difficult Stem Cell Transplant, Teen Remains Active

Drew D’Auteuil is a 17-year-old animal-loving, skiing, rowing, volleyball- playing, honor roll student with braces and a shock of red hair. Although he may seem like a typical teen, D’Auteuil has survived rare, life-threatening complications of a stem cell transplant for severe aplastic anemia. “It’s eye-opening to realize how fragile life really is when you’re … Read more

How to Prepare Your Home for a Stem Cell Transplant Patient

Leaving the hospital is an important milestone for stem cell transplant patients, because it marks the first return home after what can often be an extended recovery. But this homecoming also requires a bit of advance preparation. That’s because stem cell transplants destroy and rebuild the immune system, leaving patients immunocompromised and thus more vulnerable … Read more

Stem Cell Transplant Donor, Recipient Meet for First Time at Fenway Park

After trying chemotherapy to fight acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer, Donnie Lewis, a 56-year-old husband and father of two from Canton, Mass., learned that his best chance to return to health would be through a stem cell transplant. Because Donnie didn’t have any siblings who were a match for this procedure, his care … Read more

Answers to Common Questions About Stem Cell Transplants

Stem cell transplantation can be a life-saving treatment option for patients with blood cancers or disorders. The procedure, sometimes called bone marrow transplantation, replaces bone marrow that doesn’t work correctly or has been damaged by disease. We spoke with Joseph Antin, MD, chief of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, … Read more

Dentist Brings a Smile to Transplant Patients

Like many family members of cancer patients, Stephen Matarazzo, DMD, wanted a meaningful way to thank the Dana-Farber caregivers who saved his son Michael’s life. What he came up with involved offering his own professional expertise to protect the smiles of others. A dentist based in Quincy, Mass., Matarazzo provides pro bono dental exams and … Read more

Months After Transplant, Teen Hits the Soccer Field

Some 100 days after receiving a stem cell transplant to cure his severe aplastic anemia, 13-year-old Behaylu Barry still couldn’t invite friends into his home. He can’t return to school until January, when his immune system will finally be strong enough to fight the pathogens present in indoor spaces. Yet  Behaylu was doing so well … Read more

Living Life

By Jack Coates

In May 2001, I was diagnosed with medulloblastoma. I was 19 years old and had just finished my freshman year at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.

Medulloblastoma is a cancer that affects the brain and the spine. I had three surgeries, 52 weeks of chemo, and six weeks of radiation. I spent a year and two months in the hospital and went from 217 pounds to 97. I was scared. I was asking God: “Why?  Why did it have to happen to me?” It was shocking. Many things went through my mind.

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Five Things You Need to Know About Donating Bone Marrow

Medically reviewed by Joseph H. Antin, MD

Thousands of people who face life-threatening blood diseases, such as leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, require treatment with a stem cell transplantation (also referred to as a bone marrow transplantation). For many patients, the best treatment approach is an allogeneic transplant, in which healthy stem cells are collected from another person. The stem cell donor is selected based on how well his or her Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) markers match that of the patient.

Although a person’s HLA type is inherited from his or her parents, the likelihood of finding an HLA match with a family member is only 25 to 30 percent.

“Most people don’t have matched donors in the family, and if we’re going to provide stem cell transplants to cure these otherwise incurable diseases, we need to have a donor,” says Joseph Antin, MD, chief of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Adult Stem Cell Transplantation Program.

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What’s the Difference Between Donating Bone Marrow and Donating Stem Cells?

Stem cell transplantation (sometimes called bone marrow transplants) is a treatment for certain forms of cancer, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, as well as other diseases. But before a patient can receive a transplant, stem cells must be collected from a donor (an allogeneic donation) or from the patient (an autologous transplant).

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One Year After My Stem Cell Transplant — What I’ve Learned

by Martha Laperle

When my son Ryan ran the Boston Marathon this year, I watched him with a special level of pride. Not only had he completed his first-ever marathon in four hours, but he was running, in large part, because of me.

Just over a year earlier, at the age of 57, I had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a diagnosis that turned my life upside down and led to weeks of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC). Ryan was running to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and had received nearly $11,000 in pledges.

Barely a minute after Ryan crossed the finish line, the area shook with explosions.

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Stem Cell Transplant vs. Bone Marrow Transplant: What’s the Difference?

A stem cell transplant can be referred to as a bone marrow transplant (BMT) or peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT) or umbilical cord blood transplantation (UCBT), depending on the source of the cells that are transplanted. In other words, the only real distinction between a bone marrow transplant and a stem cell transplant in the method … Read more

Adult stem cells may hold key to better health

Sarah Knauss, famous for being among the oldest people in the world until her death at the age of 119, might have had more than just “good genes.” Dana-Farber’s Wayne Marasco, MD, PhD, says that adult stem cells – known for their healing and regenerative properties – might hold the key to a long and healthy life.

Marasco shared his expertise on the subject at the recent International Vatican Conference on Adult Stem Cells in Vatican City, Italy, an event attended by a select group of cardinals, clergy, and leading researchers and physicians from around the world.

“We have learned in the past 10 years that there are all kinds of stem cells that circulate in the blood – they aren’t just found in bone marrow,” said Marasco, of Dana-Farber’s Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS. “There are dozens of studies that support the fact that this is a large and dynamic population of cells that might help us keep our bodies healthy for a longer period of time.”

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