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Release: Nov. 14, 2002

NOTE TO EDITORS: The Celebrating Life Reunion will be held in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union Nov. 15. Registration begins at 1 p.m. The welcome and opening remarks will occur at 1:30 p.m. Annette Hoexter and Renee Shoff will meet at approximately 2 p.m. For assistance in covering this event, please contact Tom Moore at (319) 356-3945.

Participants To 'Celebrate Life' During Marrow Transplant Reunion

Approximately 400 patients who have received a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant, their families and caregivers will attend the Celebrating Life Reunion on Friday, Nov. 15 at the Iowa Memorial Union. During the celebration, a patient will meet for the first time the donor who helped save her life.

Annette Hoexter of Sherrard, Ill. and Renee Shoff of Moline, Ill. will attend the reunion. Hoexter donated bone marrow to Shoff in February 2002. Specialists in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa determined that a bone marrow transplant was the best treatment option because Shoff was in an accelerated phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

Hoexter, 32, will attend the reunion with her friend, Lynn Walters. David Shoff, Renee's husband, will accompany her. Shoff has returned to work on a part-time basis following her transplant, despite the high-risk nature of the procedure in her case.

The Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit at UI Hospitals and Clinics performed its first marrow transplant in 1980. Since then, approximately 1,450 people have received transplants there. The unit currently transplants more than 100 people each year. Roger Gingrich, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of internal medicine, directs the transplant unit and serves as associate director for clinical affairs in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI.

"As a transplant team, our goal is to restore people back to their lives," Gingrich said. "When patients come and stay with us on our Adult Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit for their transplants, we see them at their most vulnerable. At our Celebrating Life Reunion, we meet again in the arena of renewed life."

Colleen Reardon Chapleau, director of the Iowa Marrow Donor Program, added, "This event is a true celebration of the spirit. We share stories, triumphs, challenges and the beauty we find in everyday life."

People in need of a blood stem cell transplant are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease such as leukemia, lymphoma and aplastic anemia. A blood stem cell transplant involves the use of high doses of anticancer drugs or radiation to destroy the patient's diseased marrow and then giving the patient healthy blood stem cells as a replacement. In an autologous transplant, the patient's own blood stem cells are harvested, possibly treated, and then transplanted. In an allogenic transplant, another person donates the healthy marrow or blood stem cells.

Each year, more than 30,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with diseases treatable by a blood stem cell transplant. Of the patients needing to receive healthy blood stem cells from someone else, only 30 percent have a suitable family match, leaving the additional 70 percent to rely on unrelated donors.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at