Stem cell unit at Pretoria hospital

2010-08-05 12:36

Pretoria - The largest stem cell transplant unit in SA was launched at a Pretoria hospital this week.

Speaking after the official launch on Wednesday night, Jackie Thomson - who heads up the Albert Alberts Haemopoitic Stem Cell Transplant Unit at the Netcare Pretoria East Hospital - said many potential patients did not realise that transplants could be undertaken in SA and therefore travelled abroad for treatment.

Thomson said the hospital's unit completes over 80 transplants annually, more than any other country on the continent.

Haemopoitic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is the transplantation of blood stem cells from blood or bone marrow in the case of bone marrow transplantation. It is used for the treatment of diseases of the blood, bone marrow and certain cancers.

Thomson is assisted by haematologist David Brittain and paediatric oncologist Dr David Reynders.

International standards

The newly launched facility has 30 single private rooms, all in an isolation ward, vital to the protection of transplant patients whose immune systems are weak after transplantation. The unit is supported by a stem cell laboratory and cryopreservation facility.

"Our staff and doctors are among the best in the field and we are the only unit that offers treatment to both children and adults," said Thomson.

"We are a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence for the whole of the southern African region and treat patients from right around the sub-continent."

She said the unit was benchmarked against similar centres around the world, and reported to the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and the Centre for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research.

"The unit is complying with international standards every step of the way including with donor care, stem cell manipulation and stem cell transplant.

The hospital said it did as many transplants as some of the larger centres in Europe, which was "remarkable" considering that it had been performing them for only four years. The new facility would improve its capacity.

Thomson said the majority of transplants used stem cells from unrelated donors, but a few were from relatives. Most were from international donors from donor registries.


Netcare chief executive officer Richard Friedland said in the four years Thomson and her team had made significant advances.

"It has become a life saving procedure for those individuals who have had the misfortune to contract diseases such as leukaemia and other blood disorders," he said.

"High patient occupancy rates at this centre are showing that there is a great need for it in Gauteng, and a demand for its services."

  • Pieer Hugo - 2010-08-05 13:25

    Great articel. I would like to get in touch with them. Coudl you please provide contact details?

  • Jaco - 2010-08-05 13:55

    awesome, amazing!! step 2wards the future of medicine! well done south africa!!

  • Dumisani Ngwira - 2010-08-05 14:06

    Excellent News Am paraplegic but my body is growing normally Dr Jackie what dou you think? Can i benefit from this treatment , my spinal Chord was touched in a Car accident with involving unhealded Cattle at night during Holidy.

  • Di - 2010-08-05 15:07

    Has this stem cell treatment been successful for patients with Multiple Sclerosis?

  • Johnathan - 2010-08-05 15:30

    This is why private healthcare is necessary in SA. Would such a unit ever exist in a state hospital? I don't think so!

  • Leon - 2010-08-05 15:59

    These Dr's are excellent and my wife is evidence of their good work after a transplant in January this year. After 7 months my wife is well and has not been sick since the treatment. She was diagnosed with Leukemia last year. I thank God for people like them.

  • DK - 2010-08-05 16:05

    What can we as members of the public to help in making sure that this becomes even more succesful? We need more information on that please.

  • edward - 2010-08-05 18:53

    Great for you. Knew we can do it.But it comes with a price.

  • Denis - 2010-08-17 06:37

    This is great news. Does anybody know if there is any research going or planned for possible treatment with stem cells for people suffering from muscular dystophy.I would be willing to try out for clinical trials in this regard.

  • Jill - 2010-08-17 09:43

    Does this treatment work for liver cancer? Sounds amazing

  • CB - 2010-09-06 16:50

    It is amazing, thanx the amazing drs out there doing wonderful work and lets not forget the donors who donate stem cells, without this combined effort it would not be possible

  • CATB - 2010-09-07 09:30

    a perfect match for a donor is 1 in a 100 000. So please as many people as possible need to register, check out the sunflower fund on the web for details.

  • Charlotte Yaldwyn - 2010-09-07 19:55

    My husband Stehen has had 2 stem cell transplants that were "done" by Dr Jackie. The treatment is of the highest standard and the most fantastic care is taken by the doctors and staff of this unit. Congratulations on the new unit. Yaldwyn family

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