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Global number of HSCTs hits 1 million

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Published: 01/31/13
Preparing HSCs for transplant
Credit: Chad McNeeley

One million hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCTs) have been performed worldwide, according to data from the Worldwide Network for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (WBMT).

The WBMT—a nonprofit organization that promotes stem cell transplantation—said the 1 millionth transplant occurred in late December 2012.

The finding is based on data collected by WBMT member organizations that are involved in HSCTs.
“One million transplants is a milestone that may surprise many people, because blood stem cell transplants were viewed as a rare procedure until the last decade or so,” said Dietger Niederwieser, MD, president of the WBMT and a professor at the University Hospital of Leipzig in Germany.

“But important discoveries—and the vital cooperation of many scientists and physicians around the world—have dramatically improved outcomes for patients who undergo stem cell transplantation.”
The first HSCT was reported by the late E. Donnall Thomas, MD, in 1957. Dr Thomas received the Nobel Prize in 1990 for pioneering the use of this innovative approach to treat leukemia and other life-threatening diseases.
By the late 1960s, as knowledge of the requirements for matching patients with donors evolved, physicians were performing successful allogeneic transplants using stem cells from sibling donors.

In 1973, the first successful transplant between 2 unrelated people occurred in New York, when a young boy received a transplant from a donor identified as a match through a blood bank in Denmark. In 1988, the first successful umbilical cord blood transplant was performed in Paris.
Since then, a near-exponential rise in all types of HSCTs, particularly from unrelated donors, has occurred. And now, more than 70 malignant and non-malignant diseases are routinely treated with HSCTs.
“Worldwide, more than 50,000 patients a year are receiving transplants, in regions ranging from the Asia-Pacific to the Mid-East to Central America,” said Dennis Confer, MD, treasurer of the WBMT and chief medical officer of the US-based National Marrow Donor Program.

“The curative potential of this therapy will only increase, thanks to the commitment and collaboration of researchers and physicians across the globe.”


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