Doctors working to bring pediatric stem cell transplant program to Augusta

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Several doctors are working to build a new stem cell transplant program in Augusta for kids which could be a great solution for many families in the CSRA.

“Within five minutes of his pediatrician, who’ve never met him in Augusta seeing him she was like, I think he may have leukemia,” said Alex Oliver.

Alex Oliver’s son Lucas is a fighter. After the Olivers moved to North Augusta in 2017, the family received news nobody wants to hear, Lucas has leukemia.

“We were at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia about every week. Sometimes two or three times a week. Of course, those were like clinic visits to get chemo and to get counts checked,” said Oliver.

Lucas has had his good days and bad at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia but eventually his time there would come to an end.

Oliver said, “They told us the treatments that we need to give you we just don’t do here so there was a possibility of a bone marrow transplant, there was a possibility of immunotherapy called CAR-T and that’s when Dr. Ringh reached out to MUSC.”

Lucas received a bone marrow transplant at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. His mom donated her stem cells for the procedure. 

Doctor Amir Mian is the new Chief of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the Medical College of Georgia. He’s looking to bring stem cell or bone marrow transplants to CHOG.

Dr. Amir Mian said, “For example, leukemias and lymphomas, stem cell transplant obviously is the only option.”

Mian believes by starting a transplant program in Augusta, a big burden would be lifted from families who must travel long distances for treatment.

“We plan to have the BMT or the bone marrow transplant program located in the Children’s Hospital with pediatrics trained specific personnel but a lot of additional support in terms of laboratory and regulatory support is going to be coming from the Georgia Cancer Center,” said Dr. Mian.

Mian says there’s a lot of work to do to start the program, but things are looking promising. 

Dr. Mian said, “We plan to have the BMT or the bone marrow transplant program located in the Children’s Hospital with pediatrics trained specific personnel but a lot of additional support in terms of laboratory and regulatory support is going to be coming from the Georgia Cancer Center.”

Mian says there’s a lot of work to do to start the program, but things are looking promising. 

“Our meetings have already started. We’ve started gathering all the moving parts. Once we have all the integral parts as regulatory parts completed we expect maybe in about a year or so we should have a program up and running,” said Dr. Mian.

As for Lucas, he went in for several biopsies today in Charleston and is doing well. To keep up with Lucas and his journey, CLICK HERE.


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