St. Luke’s Medical Center pioneers mismatch stem cell transplant

Posted on Mar 20, 2018

(l-r) St. Luke’s Global City’s highly skilled stem cell specialists: Dr. Ernesto Datu, Dr. Arvin Faundo, Dr. Francisco Lopez, Head of Bone Marrow Transplant, and Dr. Rodelio Lim.

Two of the major problems Stem Cell transplant patients face involve the availability of a donor and the fiscal estimate of the treatment. The Mismatch Stem Cell Transplantation, pioneered by the St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City (SLMC GC) Stem Cell Center, led by Dr. Francisco Lopez, Head of the Bone and Marrow Transplant Unit, addresses these pressing issues.

“We pioneered this program using any donor in the family whether it’s a [parent] or a child,” he describes. This therefore gives a greater chance for patients to proceed with the treatment. 

For patients with blood-related problems like Leukemia and Aplastic Anemia, a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) may be the necessary treatment. During the 1950s, BMT was considered to be experimental, until further research paved the way to its development through the discovery of medication to improve the outcome of the treatment’s results, and tissue typing in order to determine whether or not an individual is qualified as a potential donor.

The Mismatch Stem Cell Transplant, also known as Haploidentical Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT), was introduced in the country by SLMC for the benefit of patients without a complete matched sibling donor. Thus, allowing a parent, child, or a mismatch sibling to become a donor. The results of this treatment are as effective as the other kinds of Blood and Marrow Transplant. Add to that, there is the supplementary benefit of expediting the beginning of the whole process, given that time is a great factor in treating a patient. Through the mismatch program of SLMC, the procedure is made more accessible and cost-effective to Filipinos.

“From our experience in St. Luke’s Global City, the range of a HSCT is somewhere between P1.6 to P2 million, or even less,” Dr. Lopez clarified.

He also shared that he had patients in the past who underwent complication-free procedures, resulting in a lower or average overall hospital bill. There are eight primary cost variables for the Stem Cell Transplant, including age (pediatric or adult), weight, conditioning regimen, number of stem cell harvests, units of blood transfusions given, intravenous antibiotics for infections, length of stay in the isolated hepa-filtered positive pressure room, and the need for intravenous nutrition.

The specialists of the Stem Cell Center came together with patients who underwent transplantations at the Center to honor the gift of life last February 17, 2018. With the theme of “Keeping Hope Alive”, a Blood and Marrow Patient Reunion was held at the Henry Sy, Sr. Auditorium of SLMC GC.

Commencing with the celebration of a Thanksgiving Mass, the night was filled with musical performances and a delectable banquet as the patients came together for a night of festivities. During the event, patients shared stories from their Stem Cell journey to inspire fellow attendees.

The Bone Marrow Transplant Unit of SLMC GC, composed of a multidisciplinary team of specialists, nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, and laboratory technicians, is fully capable of providing personalized topnotch healthcare.

Mobilized in 2010, the Stem Cell Center is equipped with specialized positive pressure rooms that are HEPA-filtered to prohibit infections, and its own blood bank. With state-of-the-art facilities coupled with the expertise of the Center’s medical staff, St. Luke’s ensures that each patient is given quality Blood and Bone Marrow treatment through inpatient cell therapies.

For more information, you may contact the St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City Stem Cell Center at the trunkline, 789-7700 ext. 2103 or 2096.