Loma Linda University Cancer Center’s Bone Marrow Transplant program has collaborated with the Veterans Affairs health system in southern California to provide personalized stem cell transplants to veterans suffering from blood cancers. Stem cell transplants have proven to be effective in putting certain types of blood cancers into remission and significantly extending patients’ lives. One success story is that of 68-year-old army veteran John Gilmore, who achieved complete remission from mantle cell lymphoma within a year of diagnosis thanks to an autologous stem cell transplant using his own healthy blood cells.
The Cancer Center’s approach focuses on tailoring treatment plans to each individual’s unique health circumstances and preferences. In Gilmore’s case, kidney dysfunction almost ruled out a stem cell transplant, but after consulting with hematologist-oncologist Mojtaba Akhtari and conducting his own research, Gilmore modified his treatment regimen to make the transplant possible. Akhtari emphasizes the importance of personalized care, recognizing that each patient presents different circumstances and comorbidities.
This partnership is particularly valuable for veterans living in the Inland Empire region, as it allows them to receive life-saving transplants close to home. Previously, many patients had to seek treatment outside the state, leading to significant disruptions and separations from familiar environments and loved ones. With this program, veterans can access autologous stem cell transplants without having to travel far. The Cancer Center’s Bone Marrow Transplant program is currently one of the only programs in the region offering this service.
Veterans like John Gilmore are grateful for the care and support they receive from the Cancer Center, allowing them to embark on their recovery journeys with the assurance of being in expert hands. As Gilmore continues his recovery, he looks forward to reuniting with his group of veteran friends for motorcycle trips and enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking. Akhtari and his team at Loma Linda University Cancer Center express their honor and privilege in providing stem cell transplants to veterans, recognizing the importance of individualized care in helping patients with cancer.