One of the truly gratifying truths about cancer care is the amazing progress we have made in just the last few decades. For patients with blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, the Fox Chase-Temple University Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant BMT Program has led advances in lifesaving treatment for 35 years, with many clinical and scientific "firsts" to which our leaders, researchers, clinicians, and courageous patients have contributed.
It all started in February 1988 when the first bone marrow transplant was performed at Temple Health. Just one year before, Kenneth Mangan, MD, formally established our BMT Program, building a team and developing a vision for what was to come. In the years since, we have marked milestone after milestone. Our team has performed many firsts, including various types of transplant procedures from autologous (using a patient’s own stem cells) to allogeneic (using donor stem cells) to peripheral blood stem cell transplants (using stem cells from the blood stream instead of the bone marrow) and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy (using immune cells, called T cells, to destroy cancer).
We have broadened eligibility for treatment, with more mature patients able to safely undergo transplants (about 25% of our patients are age 65 and older) and the ability to perform bloodless procedures for patients who need them. We significantly expanded our clinical space in 2000 with a move to Temple University Hospital – Jeanes Campus. All the while, we have steadily increased patient volumes and extended our reach beyond the Philadelphia region to many other parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Exceptional leadership has factored into our success in an integral way—from Dr. Mangan’s original vision to the stewardship and direction of Henry Fung, MD, FACP, FRCPE, who joined us in 2014 and serves as Chair, Department of Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapies. With each of them at the helm, our program has distinguished itself with the high number of transplants we perform, our level of expertise, and the support services we have for our patients. Complex treatment and compromised immunity make our BMT patients some of our most vulnerable. Their care can be daunting, so the decision on where to seek treatment is critical. Our top-ranked program employs a specially trained team of expert transplant physicians and nurses, who take a multidisciplinary approach that addresses every aspect of a transplant patient’s needs from diagnosis to survivorship.
The team’s work has earned us an elite distinction from the Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) for over-performing in terms of clinical outcomes and survival rates. In addition, our BMT Program has consistently earned accreditation since 2002 by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT)—the gold standard of excellence for blood and bone marrow transplant programs in the United States. We also have consistently exceeded the rigorous criteria to be a participating provider in the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). With all of the many accolades our program has garnered, perhaps our most important distinction is the level of compassion our team brings to the care of our patients and their families. According to Dr. Fung, the success of the BMT Program is largely due to our devoted staff and faculty—many of whom have provided more than 20 years of service to Temple Health. As we mark this special 35th anniversary, we celebrate this incredible success from every corner of our organization.