Leukemia Patient Meets His Bone Marrow Donor | Loyola Medicine
Friday, September 15, 2017

Leukemia Patient Meets Bone Marrow Donor Who Saved His Life

Leukemia survivor Jeffrey Hoffman with donor Zachary Gold

Jeffrey Hoffman (left) met his donor, Zachary Gold (right), for the first time, during Loyola Medicine's Bone Marrow Transplant Celebration of Survivorship. 

MAYWOOD, IL – Leukemia survivor Jeffrey Hoffman owes his life to a complete stranger who altruistically donated bone marrow cells for Mr. Hoffman's successful bone marrow transplant.

"It was a very noble thing to do," Mr. Hoffman said.

On September 10, 2017, Mr. Hoffman met his donor, Zachary Gold, for the first time, during Loyola Medicine's Bone Marrow Transplant Celebration of Survivorship. About 400 patients, family members, caregivers, donors, doctors and nurses attended the annual event at Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center.

Mr. Gold, 25, of San Diego, registered to become a bone marrow donor in honor of his uncle, who underwent a bone marrow transplant. When he was told he matched a patient who needed a life-saving bone marrow transplant, Mr. Gold immediately agreed to donate. After marrow cells were removed from Mr. Gold's pelvis, he spent the night at a local hospital and was sore for a few days.

"It was a mild discomfort," he said. "I definitely would do it again."

Mr. Hoffman, 65, of Naperville, Illinois, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a fast-growing cancer of white blood cells. He underwent high-dose chemotherapy and whole-body radiation to kill the cancer cells. While wiping out the cancer, the treatments also killed Mr. Hoffman's immune system cells. He received an infusion of Mr. Gold's bone marrow cells, which developed into healthy new immune system cells.

“Despite all the technology we deploy, we still rely on the good intentions of donors,” said Patrick Stiff, MD, director of the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. Dr. Stiff said he continually is amazed that donors such as Mr. Gold “are willing to go through a potentially painful procedure to save the life of someone they have never even met.

Loyola Medicine oncologist and transplant physician Scott Smith, MD, PhD, performed Mr. Hoffman's bone marrow transplant one year ago. "Mr. Hoffman is in complete remission and his prognosis is excellent," Dr. Smith said.

Loyola has one of the largest unrelated donor transplant programs in the world focusing on umbilical cord blood as an alternative for donors without matched related or unrelated donors. Loyola physicians have performed more than 3,000 stem cell transplants, including about 200 umbilical cord blood transplants.

The team is also investigating the novel CAR T-cells for the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma. Loyola receives referrals from throughout the Midwest, including other academic medical centers in Chicago. Loyola is among the first centers to use ex vivo expanded umbilical cord stem cells for the treatment of certain adult cancers.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.