Blood and Marrow Transplantation program celebrates 40th anniversary

[email protected] In 1968, Dr. Robert Good at the University of Minnesota performed the first ever successful bone marrow transplant on an infant with immune deficiency syndrome. Four decades later, the UniversityâÄôs Blood and Marrow Transplantation program celebrated the 40th anniversary of this accomplishment in Coffman Union . More than 600 people were at Coffman on Saturday to recognize the anniversary; many flew in from across the United States, Melinda Baxter , an event director, said. Dan Weisdorf, a BMT program director, said bone marrow transplants have come a long way since they were first performed because more donors are available and the practice itself is safer. âÄúItâÄôs substantially safer than it was 20 years ago,âÄù he said. Today, bone marrow transplants can help with about 25 different cancers and diseases. Dr. John Kersey was a medical resident when Good performed the UniversityâÄôs first successful marrow transplant surgery in 1968. He said he admired the doctorsâÄô teamwork. âÄúWe were lucky to have an environment in which a lot of different specialties were coming together,âÄù he said. âÄúWe worked as a team.âÄù Dave Stahl was the first person in the world to receive a bone marrow transplant for lymphoma. That transplant was done here at the University by Dr. Kersey in 1975. Although doctors didnâÄôt tell him he had just a 5 percent chance of surviving lymphoma, Stahl said he was still told that a bone marrow transplant was his best option. âÄúWhat else are you gonna do, you know?âÄù he said. âÄúYou only got one shot.âÄù Stahl received the transplant when he was 16 years old. He is now 49, married, and has a son. âÄúIf it wasnâÄôt for Dr. Kersey at the âÄòU,âÄô I wouldnâÄôt be talking to you,âÄù he said. Erik Boustead also received a revolutionary treatment at the University. He was the first person in the world to receive total bone marrow irradiation as part of his treatment . His surgery destroyed all the blood cells in his bone marrow and replaced them with new stem cells. Boustead was 20 when he received the transplant in 2005. He relapsed eight months later, but said the marrow transplant was still effective. âÄúWhen you talk about a cure for cancer, it might cure it and it might not,âÄù he said. âÄúBut the fact that it does sometimes means that that alone is pretty good.âÄù Steven Levsen, now a chemistry professor at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, received a bone marrow transplant at the University. He said he chose to come to the University because of the quality of the program and the service. âÄúThe physicians were very attentive to individual needs,âÄù he said. âÄúThis was the best transplant program in the Midwest.âÄù