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Boise woman receives first allogeneic transplant in Idaho

UPDATED: Fri., May 18, 2018, 9:55 p.m.

BOISE – Doctors have performed Idaho’s first allogeneic stem cell transplant.

Boise television station KTVB reported that Idaho residents fighting serious diseases like lymphoma, multiple myeloma and leukemia previously had to leave the state to get the potentially life-saving treatment, which involves transplanting stem cells or bone marrow from a donor into the patient’s body.

On Thursday doctors at St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise performed the procedure on Patricia Edwards to treat her myeloid leukemia. Edwards was diagnosed in January and told that an allogeneic transplant was the best option.

“I said, ‘What are my chances without going this route?’ And (my doctor) said four to six months,” Edwards said.

Edwards was happy she didn’t need to travel out of state for the highly complicated procedure. “One of the things that bothered me the most was that I’d have to be there for three months. And I’m a homebody, so I like to be home,” she said.

Edwards’ sister was a perfect match and donated her stem cells.

The treatment means staying in the hospital for a month, followed by months more of recovery and treatment.

“If it saves my life, it’s well worth it, isn’t it?” Edwards said.

Dr. Finn Petersen joined St. Luke’s from Utah as the new MSTI Blood and Transplant Program director.

“I think she’s done really well,” Petersen said.

He said the procedure is typically available only at university hospitals because it’s so complicated; the patient is getting a whole new immune system.

“Where the trick then is to get this new healthy donor immune system to fight the patient’s cancer,” he said. “We are more and more coming to the understanding that the key to curing the patient is to get the donor immune cells to do the job.”


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