San Antonio, November 9, 2013 — Methodist Hospital and its campus at Methodist Children’s Hospital brought together nearly 500 bone marrow recipients, donors and their families for a reunion that celebrated the gift of life made possible by blood and marrow stem cell transplantation. The reunion was held at Six Flags Fiesta Texas where participants enjoyed a barbecue meal and admission to the park.
“It is rewarding to see our patients healthy and happy, knowing that through the care we offered we made a difference. We made them survivors. In many cases, we gave them a hope and a cure,” said Paul Shaughnessy, M.D., Medical Director, Adult Blood Cancers and Stem Cell Transplant Program, Texas Transplant Institute, a department of Methodist Hospital.
Several patients were recognized at the reunion for traveling the farthest, being the oldest recipient and donor, the youngest recipient and donor and longest surviving recipient. In addition, Linda Alaniz of San Antonio, met her donor RicardoTijerina of Winnetka, CA, for the first time. Alaniz had myelodysplastic syndrome through exposure to chemotherapy and radiation during treatment for breast cancer. Her experience was similar to that of ABC anchorwoman Robin Roberts. Alaniz had her bone marrow transplant in July 2010 with Tijerina, a matched donor from the National Marrow Donor Registry providing stem cells.
Carol Mulumba, 12, attended the reunion in celebration of the fifth anniversary since her life-saving bone marrow transplant at Methodist Children’s Hospital. Her brother, Mark, was her donor. “I like talking to other children about my bone marrow transplant. My parents and I want to help others who are going through everything we went through. I tell them to ask a lot of questions,” Carole said. Carol’s mother, Lukiah, is a military nurse currently stationed in California. The family was stationed at Lackland AFB when Carol was diagnosed with sickle cell disease and needed a transplant. Carol and her mother traveled to Uganda over the summer to speak at an International Sickle Cell Conference that drew more than 5,000 participants from around the world.
For patients diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases, a bone marrow or cord blood transplant may be their best or only option for a cure. Methodist Hospital offers the only stem cell transplant program in South Texas for adults. Physicians perform more than 200 transplants each year, and the program ranks as one of the largest in the United States. The hospital is certified by the National Marrow Donor Program as a transplant center.
Methodist Children’s Hospital offers the only blood cancer and stem cell transplant program in South Texas for children and adolescents. Through the program, between 40 and 50 pediatric stem cell, cord blood and bone marrow transplants are performed annually, and it ranks as one of the busiest in the country. The program also ranks among the highest in the nation for patient survival.
Stem cell transplants are used to replace bone marrow that has been destroyed by disease, chemotherapy, or radiation. In some diseases, like leukemia, aplastic anemia, certain inherited blood diseases, and some diseases of the immune system, the stem cells in the bone marrow don’t work the way they should. At the reunion, guests were asked to join the bone marrow registry by filling out a simple questionnaire and providing a check swab for DNA. Their information will be added into the National Marrow Donor Program database so they might potentially give another person the gift of life.
About Texas Transplant Institute
The Texas Transplant Institute at San Antonio’s Methodist Healthcare was established in 1998 as the first organization in the United States to combine both blood and marrow stem cell transplant and solid organ transplant programs into a single entity. Since that time, the program has grown exponentially and now includes the nation’s largest kidney paired donation program, South Texas’s only heart transplant program and one of the state’s leading liver transplant programs with exceptional one- and three-year survival rates. Texas Transplant Institute’s blood and marrow stem cell transplant program serves both adults and children from across the United States and Latin America with evidence-based therapies that give hope to patients with blood cancers and other forms of blood diseases. The Texas Transplant Institute’s blood cancers and stem cell transplant program was the first program in North America to be accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) and has remained accredited ever since.
About Methodist Healthcare System – San Antonio
Methodist Healthcare System – San Antonio is the largest provider of health care in South and Central Texas with 26 facilities including nine hospitals serving 90,000 inpatients and 390,000 outpatients annually. The Methodist Healthcare team is comprised of 8,000 employees, making Methodist Healthcare the second largest private employer in San Antonio. In 2012, Methodist Healthcare was one of only two hospitals in Texas recognized by the Texas Medical Foundation with a Gold Award for Quality. Methodist Healthcare has won the National Research Foundation’s Consumer Choice Award for 13 consecutive years, more times than any other health care provider in Texas. For the past five years, Methodist Healthcare has received “Best Hospital” Gold Award by the San Antonio Express-News’ Readers’ Choice Awards. Most recently, Methodist Healthcare received a “Top Performer” quality award from the Joint Commission. With more than 2,700 credentialed physicians, Methodist Healthcare provides the largest array of medical services in the region including neurosurgery, cardiovascular services, oncology and women’s services. Visit www.SAHealth.com to learn more.