October 19, 2006

Contact: Lauren Cruse (505) 272-3690

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Albuquerque, UNM-The pediatric specialty care unit at University of New Mexico Hospitals (UNMH) recently performed its first ever pediatric autologous stem cell transplant, making it the first time a pediatric patient has received this type of transplant in the state of New Mexico.

An autologous stem cell transplant is a procedure that uses stem cells from the actual patient. The stem cells are harvested either from the patient’s bone marrow or peripheral blood (blood stream) and are then transplanted back to the patient after the patient receives high doses of chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells.

With the high doses of chemotherapy, a patient’s bone marrow is at risk for failure. The harvested stem cells are vital to a patient after they receive such intense chemotherapy. Stem cells help sustain bone marrow that is needed to make other blood cells such as white and red blood cells, and platelets.

Dr. Stuart Winter, medical director for the pediatric specialty care unit at UNMH, said that the hard work of colleague Dr. Jeffery Hanrahan was one of the main reasons the first stem cell transplant was a success.

"This has been a career goal for Dr. Hanrahan to do this type of transplant at UNM," said Dr. Winter. "I also want to recognize the UNM Cancer Treatment and Research Center and its director Cheryl Willman. The pediatric specialty care unit is part of the cancer center. The work Cheryl Willman has done in cancer for New Mexico is one of the big reasons this transplant was made possible."

Dr. Winter said with the new ability to use this procedure at UNM, more pediatric patients and their families will no longer have to go out of state to receive the transplant.