Thank you Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, Pioneer of Bone Marrow Transplantation

I haven’t felt great at all recently, site like my body is just shutting down. This isn’t anything I didn’t expect to happen, for sale I just wish it would have happened later rather than now. My head has been pounding alot in the visual cortext area of my brain, although my vision isn’t a problem yet. I’ve being spending alot of time in bed as I’m low on energy and loud noises (re: conversation on a bus or in a cafe) sound like jackhammers drilling my brain.

My memory is definitely eroding as I’m sometimes forgetting names or recalling information I just looked at. I still have my cold for the last few weeks, which may actually be an infection, although I haven’t had it checked out. On a positive note, my specialist didn’t call following my blood test this month, which mean I won’t need to go back on chemo treatment this month. I will have another blood test in a couple of weeks and hopefully my cancer levels will not have spiked.

Saturday evening I found out that Dr. E. Donnall Thomas had passed away at 92. Although I never knew him, he is responsible for extending my life as he is the person that pioneered bone marrow transplantation (BMT) in the 50s. Shortly after my diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma in 2006, I had 2 bone marrow transplants that were successful in reducing my cancer levels for about a year.

Photograph by Susie Fitzhugh
Dr. E. Donnall Thomas

“To the world, Don Thomas will forever be known as the father of bone marrow transplantation, but to his colleagues at Fred Hutch he will be remembered as a friend, colleague, mentor and pioneer,” said Larry Corey, M.D., president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “The work Don Thomas did to establish marrow transplantation as a successful treatment for leukemia and other otherwise fatal diseases of the blood is responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.”

His groundbreaking work is among the greatest success stories in cancer treatment. Bone marrow transplantation and its sister therapy, blood stem cell transplantation, have had worldwide impact, boosting survival rates from nearly zero to up to 90 percent for some blood cancers. This year, approximately 60,000 transplants will be performed worldwide.

He is also the 1990 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. I wish I could shake his hand and say thank you. I hope someday to visit the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre where he worked until his retirement in 2002.

About tyfn

From December 2019 I've been on Darzalex (daratumumab) IV chemo with Velcade (Bortezomib) injection chemo + dexamethasone. Have Multiple Myeloma + anemia, a rare incurable cancer of the immune system. Life goal: To spread awareness about Multiple Myeloma through my self-portraits. UBC MSc Grad.
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