40th anniversary of first bone marrow transplant in Ireland marked at St James’

by Rose Barrett
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Last week we featured the incredible Andy Kavanagh who is still flying after a heart transplant 38 years ago. This week, Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly attended the 40th anniversary of the first bone marrow transplant in Ireland, at St James’s Hospital.

The Stem Cell Transplantation (SCT) Service in St James’s Hospital was founded in 1984 and has since performed more than 3,750 stem cell and bone marrow transplants. The service oversees transplants in almost 200 patients each year.

At the event, the Minister thanked the people involved with performing the first bone marrow transplant and establishing the haematology services at St James’s Hospital.

Speaking at the event, Minister Donnelly said: “I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first bone marrow transfusion. It is important to take time to recognise the innovation, collaboration, and hard work of the last 40 years.”

Minister Donnelly thanked the organisations whose services facilitate the number of bone marrow transplants that take place nationally, and acknowledged in particular the work of, the Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network and the Irish Unrelated Bone Marrow Registry.

The Minister also paid tribute to donors, and the role they play in facilitating the many bone marrow transplants that take place. The Minister highlighted that in 2023, 2,385 new volunteers provided blood samples to join the Irish Unrelated Bone Marrow Registry.

Minister Donnelly added: “I’d also like to take this opportunity to recognise the strong strategic direction of the National Cancer Strategy and ongoing investment by this government in cancer services, over €1m has been allocated to establish adult CAR T-cell therapy here at St James’s Hospital and the paediatric service at CHI Crumlin.

“By providing access to this service in St James’s Hospital, patients no longer have to travel to the UK to avail of this treatment. This means they can remain closer to their home, families, and support networks, which provides more comfort and peace of mind on the journey to recovery.”

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