St. David’s South Austin Medical Center Performs First Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant as Part of Region’s First Blood Cancer Center

April 22, 2014

On Feb. 5, 2014, the first adult hematopoietic stem cell transplant* — a type of blood and marrow transplant (BMT) — was performed in the new comprehensive blood cancer center at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. The new blood cancer center was developed as part of the Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Network — a collaborative network of the country’s preeminent sites for blood cancer treatment.

The procedure was performed on a 60-year-old woman with multiple myeloma.

“We are pleased that our first adult blood and marrow transplant at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center was a success,” Paul Shaughnessy, M.D., program director of the adult bone marrow transplant program at Texas Transplant Institute®, a department of Methodist Hospital, said. “Traveling to another city for treatment was not an option for this patient, and it became increasingly clear that being able to provide her with this level of care close to home — with the helpful support of family and friends nearby — made a significant impact. We are hopeful that this treatment will allow her to live in remission for many years.”

During blood and marrow transplantation, blood-forming stem cells from bone marrow, umbilical cord blood or peripheral blood are infused into the patient to restore the body’s ability to produce blood and immune cells. Prior to the procedure, patients receive high doses of radiation and/or chemotherapy to treat the underlying disease and prepare for the transplant. The transplant, which is similar to a blood infusion, lasts 10 minutes to three hours, depending on the quantity and type of cells that are transplanted.

The first BMT was an autologous transplant — a procedure in which a patient’s own stem cells are used during the transplant. The new blood cancer treatment center will begin doing allogeneic transplants — a procedure in which donor stem cells are used — in the near future.

Most transplant patients require hospitalization at some point during the BMT process, although the length of the hospital stay will vary based on the type of transplantation and the patient’s condition. While the transplant itself only takes a few hours, at most, it can take several months for the complete bone marrow transition.

“A blood and marrow transplant can be the culmination of an arduous course of treatment for patients with hematologic cancer,” Beth Hellerstedt, M.D., oncologist at Texas Oncology, said. “As this patient’s referring physician, it is gratifying to be able to assure her, and countless others, that the complete continuum of care for blood-related malignancies is now available right here in Austin.”

“Before now, patients who needed blood and marrow transplants had to travel to other cities — the closest being San Antonio — to receive this level of care, where they would have to stay for several weeks or even months,” Todd Steward, chief executive officer of St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, said. “We are pleased to be able to offer this service to the region and to fill a critical gap in local healthcare services.”

The blood cancer center at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center is another addition to comprehensive cancer services offered by St. David’s HealthCare. This center is uniquely structured to address the needs of Central Texas by bringing together recognized physician leadership provided by the Texas Transplant Institute® and Texas Oncology with the Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Network and St. David’s South Austin Medical Center in the treatment of blood cancers.

Texas Transplant Institute® is a recognized leader in the treatment of blood cancers. Its blood and marrow stem cell transplant program, established at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio in 1993, has performed nearly 2,800 bone marrow transplants since its inception, and it is ranked as one of the largest in the nation.

As a pioneer of community-based cancer treatment, Texas Oncology has been providing leading-edge cancer care and advanced treatment and therapy options to patients across Texas for more than 25 years.

Through its affiliation with Sarah Cannon — the global cancer enterprise of HCA (Hospital Corporation of America), which provides a full range of physician-led, patient-centric integrated cancer care services — the blood cancer center at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center is committed to the highest level of quality standards, infrastructure, training and research to provide an unparalleled experience for patients seeking treatment for blood cancers. The individual programs that form the Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Network have long been recognized as leaders in patient care and outcomes.

In May 2013, the new blood cancer treatment center also opened an outpatient clinic for adult patients who have blood cancers — such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma—and have received or will receive a bone marrow transplant.

 *Hematopoietic stem cell transplants involve hematopoietic stem cells, not embryonic stem cells.