UVA: Expanding access to bone marrow transplants

uva-health-sysThe UVA Cancer Center’s Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program has been designated as a National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)/Be The Match® transplant center and now has access to the Be The Match Registry®, the world’s largest and most diverse bone marrow donor registry.

Bone marrow and stem cell transplants offer patients potential cures for immune disorders and blood cancers, such as leukemia, multiple myeloma and lymphoma.

The treatment process may involve using one’s own cells (autologous) or cells from a related family member or unrelated donor (allogeneic). When an exact match is unavailable, healthy bone marrow and stem cells can come from a donor whose cells are the closest exact matches for the patient. The NMDP/Be The Match works with designated transplant centers, like UVA Cancer Center, to connect patients with potential donors.

About 70 percent of patients don’t have a match in their family and rely on an unrelated donor to save their life. The NMDP/Be The Match offers patients access to more than 22.5 million potential donors and 601,000 cord blood units on U.S. and global registries.

“As a NMDP/Be The Match transplant center, UVA patients will now have access to more potential donors beyond just a family member,” said Thomas P. Loughran, Jr., MD, UVA Cancer Center director.

This is exciting news for patients such as longtime Charlottesville resident Molly Bass, who was diagnosed as having Hodgkin’s disease and Large T-Cell Lymphoma in 2001. For Bass, getting a transplant was her last hope for a cure.

“When I needed a transplant, I traveled across the country for care that is now available at UVA Cancer Center,” Bass said.

UVA Cancer Center was selected as a transplant center for meeting the rigorous quality standards expected by the NMDP/Be The Match. According to the non-profit’s website, some of these criteria include:

Medical directors with prior transplantation experience
Nurses who are trained and experienced in the care of transplant patients
A coordinator and patient advocate who are familiar with the issues of transplantation from an unrelated donor
Experienced laboratories that meet the high standards set by professional laboratory organizations
UVA Cancer Center is one of only three NMDP/Be The Match programs in Virginia.

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