City of Hope’s bone marrow transplant program started with just two physicians, three beds and guarded expectations in 1976 when a young college student was admitted as a patient and became the hospital’s first successful bone marrow transplant. The student was one of City of Hope’s longest-surviving BMT patients and would remain in remission for the rest of his life.
Since the promising early years of the program, City of Hope has remained a pioneer in transplantation medicine. The laboratory and clinical researchers have led the way in making transplants more effective and safer, with fewer side effects. The advent of BMT marked an important step forward in the battle against leukemia, lymphoma and other diseases of the blood and immune system, and City of Hope has played a crucial role in the advancement of the procedure. With growing success with nonrelated matched donors and, most recently, partially matched donors, BMT is saving more lives than ever before as evidenced by City of Hope recently performing the procedure on its 16,000th patient, a remarkable milestone. In addition, we have been ranked 15 years in a row by the Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research for providing care and strong clinical outcomes for our transplant patients.
The “Celebration of Life” BMT reunion is an annual highlight at City of Hope. The reunion started 44 years ago with just one patient, his family, his doctors and a cake with a ‘1’ candle celebrating the one year anniversary of his transplant. From there, the reunion grew to a small group of patients and their families. Only this time, Stephen Forman, M.D., and several nurses got together and cooked spaghetti the night prior to the celebratory lunch party held in a conference room at City of Hope.
Today, the reunion has grown to become one of the biggest events the institution hosts each year, bringing together more than 4,000 attendees. Proudly wearing buttons indicating the anniversary of what they call their “second birthday,” patients return to the Duarte campus to reunite, rejoice and reminisce in their common bond as survivors. This year, they will celebrate virtually at an event that will bring them together in a new way as an online community to share this time with other patients, their family, friends and the team at City of Hope who cared for them.