For patients with leukemia, lymphoma or other life-threatening blood diseases, a stem cell transplant replaces the diseased blood cells with healthy ones. Stem cells come from the bone marrow or certain parts of the blood. Although the patient still needs chemotherapy and radiation, the procedure offers a lot of hope in the treatment process.
For more information visit https://uvahealth.com/services/stem-cell-transplant
KAREN BALLEN: When we explain the transplant process, the testing that we might need to do with the transplant, what the transplant admission is like and what the recovery period is like so that the patient and their family can be well prepared and informed. And I also call the referring physician while the patient is there for the appointment so that we can have good communication with all of their caregivers. In the U.S., only about 30 percent of patients actually have a donor in their family. So my area of expertise is finding donors whether that’s through the registry, whether it’s a family member that’s not a perfect match or using blood that’s thrown out after a woman has a baby but can be saved and used also for transplant.
TAMILA KINDWALL-KELLER: I evaluate them for stem cell transplant and determine whether or not they’re candidates for that potentially curative therapy. It depends on their disease type, but transplant patients may have up to a 50 percent chance of being cured of their cancers from a stem cell transplant.
MICHAEL KENG: I believe that the University of Virginia offers that team wide multidisciplinary approach. We’re not satisfied with just maintaining the status quo. We always want to do better. We’re always improving upon what was done yesterday. And we’re doing this together not only by myself but definitely with the team that I work with day in and day out.
MICHAEL WILLIAMS: Developing a program here with our hematology oncology group and with the UVA Cancer Center. It’s been just a passion of everyone who works here to deliver that care and get the most effective treatments to our patients as quickly and effectively as possible.
TAMILA KINDWALL-KELLER: Our transplant team includes many different specialties including social work, our transplant coordinators, a physician and nurse practitioners. So it’s really a team effort when you come in to meet us for the first time.