Sylvester Celebrates 500th Stem Cell Transplant

On January 14, more than 150 patients, their families, doctors, nurses and caretakers came to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to celebrate a tremendous milestone in the cancer center’s recent history — the 500th stem cell transplant conducted at Sylvester to treat blood disorders such as leukemia and lymphoma.

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., kicked off the event, thanking the stem cell transplant program’s leadership and staff for their work.

“The work done by our stem cell transplant doctors and nurses is so important in the quest to treat and cure blood disorders,” he said. “What they do every day is truly remarkable.”

“We’re one of the largest programs in the country now,” Krishna V. Komanduri, M.D., Medical Director of the Adult Stem Cell Program at Sylvester told the Miami Herald. Komanduri started the program in 2011 and has treated more than 500 patients so far, with patient numbers increasing every year. In the second half of 2015 alone, he and his team performed transplants on more than 100 patients.

The highlight of the evening was a speech by the 200th patient of the program, George Schwartz, an art restorer from Boca Raton. After being turned down by other doctors, who told him he was too old for a transplant, Schwartz came to Sylvester for a second opinion. The doctors here conducted his transplant in July 2013, and he has been doing well ever since.

“The transplant gave me a new lease on life, and I am so thankful,” he said at the event.

Also attending was Keith Oliver, the program’s 500th stem cell transplant recipient, who underwent treatment at Sylvester in September 2015. Together with Schwartz, Oliver and Komanduri received two proclamations recognizing the work done at Sylvester’s Adult Stem Cell Transplant Program — one from the state of Florida and one from Miami-Dade County. In addition, Sylvester unveiled a memorial bench to mark this milestone in the newly renovated gardens behind the building.

“We can’t wait to see everyone again next year, when we’ll celebrate our next milestone at Sylvester’s stem cell transplant program,” said Komanduri. “We already know the number will be much higher than 500.”

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