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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 25, 2005

Participants To 'Celebrate Life' At Transplant Reunion

Approximately 400 patients who have received a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant, their families and caregivers will attend the eighth annual Celebrating Life Reunion from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at the Quality Inn & Suites, 2525 North Dodge St. in Iowa City. A highlight of the celebration will occur when a transplant patient and the blood stem cell donor who helped save her life meet for the first time.

The Blood and Marrow Transplantation Programs at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Iowa Marrow Donor Program are sponsoring the reunion. Specialists at UI Hospitals and Clinics performed the first marrow transplant there in 1980. Since then, more than 1,700 people have received transplants there. The unit currently transplants more than 75 people each year.

Roger Gingrich, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of internal medicine, directs the Blood and Marrow Transplantation Programs and serves as associate director for clinical affairs in 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 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 and challenges. What stands out each year is the message of hope embodied in the courageous people who have fought cancer and who now give back to help others."

During the reunion, Kimberly Chambers, 24, of Atlanta, Ga. will meet her donor, 27-year-old Becky DeVries of Mason City, Iowa. Chambers was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in April 2004. She received her new, life-saving blood stem cells on Sept. 30, 2004.

DeVries joined the National Bone Marrow Donor Program in 2002. She agreed to participate in additional testing in July 2004, which led to her match with Chambers. DeVries is a reporter with KIMT-TV in Mason City. Both women say they are thrilled with the opportunity to meet each other face to face.

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 remaining 70 percent to rely on unrelated donors.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI 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

NOTE TO EDITORS: The welcome and opening remarks will occur at 1:00 p.m. Chambers will meet her donor at approximately 2:15 p.m. For assistance in covering this event, please contact Tom Moore by calling 319-356-3945.

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,