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VOL. 9 | NO. 21 | Saturday, May 21, 2016

West Cancer Doc Building Blood and Marrow Transplant Program

By Andy Meek

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As a measure of how far Dr. Yasser Khaled’s field has come, the medical director of the West Cancer Center’s recently formed Blood and Marrow Transplant Program still recalls some eye-opening statistics that date back to his early days in the field some 15 years ago.

DR. YASSER KHALED

Back then, around 30 percent of patients would die within the first 100 days of a transplant. Now, he says, about 80 percent of patients can survive the first year.

Khaled joined West Cancer Center one year ago this month. He came from Orlando, Fla., where he’d served as medical director of the Bone and Marrow Transplant Program at the Florida Hospital-Orlando.

Among other results during his tenure there, the program established itself as the second largest in the state, with survival outcomes that he said significantly exceeded the national average. And he wants to see the same thing happen here.

“Chairing the program here entails establishing a stem cell transplant program that provides all types of donor transplants for patients with things like blood cancers, leukemia, lymphoma,” Khaled said about the West Cancer Center program.

It’s a collaboration between Methodist Healthcare, West Cancer Center and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

“I was in Florida and started this type of transplant program there before coming here,” he said. “There was an unmet medical need.

“With transplants, everything is challenging, but it’s also so exciting to see what you can do with patients. It’s rewarding, because when a patient does well, you feel like you made a change in these peoples’ lives. They have a family, kids, work, jobs, and you can get them back on their feet.”

Part of his expertise has included establishing an adult Haploidentical Transplant Program, one of the benefits of which is to increase the likelihood of finding a donor for every patient. That’s a particularly critical imperative in the Memphis area, where according to the West Cancer Center, African-Americans have a less than 30 percent chance of finding an unrelated donor.

The Blood and Marrow Transplant Program is housed at Methodist University Hospital, 1265 Union Ave., on the third floor of the Crews Wing. Conditions the program treats include bone marrow failure syndromes and aplastic anemia, and it offers stem cell transplantation and cellular therapy for a variety of hematological malignancies.

Stem cell transplantation is performed using all donor sources, including a person’s own stem cells as well as those from a donor. Transplants using the latter can come from conventional donors like matched siblings and fully matched unrelated donors, as well as alternative donors and cord blood transplants.

Before his work in Florida, Khaled served as a faculty member at the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His strong interest in research has also resulted in more than 70 regional and national presentations on stem cell transplantation and multiple myeloma.

Khaled earned his medical degree from the Cairo University School of Medicine in Cairo, Egypt. He fulfilled his internship with transitional departments in Cairo University hospitals, and went on to complete his residency in internal medicine with Miser International Hospital in Cairo, as well as Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

He’s proud of his work today and eager to build on it in Memphis. The transplants he works with, he said, can take about a month for a patient to recover from and about a year for them to get fully back to their baseline.

It’s a statistic that reflects how critical the work is and, for both him and the patients, the investment involved to get it right.

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