A Birmingham hospital has reached the landmark of its 1,500th bone marrow transplant.
Former patients treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, came together to celebrate the milestone at the weekend.
The procedure involves taking a healthy sample of stem cells from bone marrow belonging to a healthy donor and injecting them into a leukaemia patient’s own bone marrow to increase production of blood cells.
Professor Charles Craddock, consultant haematologist, said the first transplant was performed in the summer of 1982, but Birmingham medics now carry out an average of 150 a year.
“It was an extremely moving celebration and affirmation of life to see former bone marrow transplant patients from the past 27 years,” said Prof Craddock.
“It also shows the medical advances in care for patients who otherwise would not have been here.
“Things are improving so much that I think it will take less time to carry out the next 1,500, probably within the next decade.”
The hospital has the second largest bone marrow transplant unit in the UK and leads the way on pioneering new treatments, such as using chord blood donations.
Bone marrow transplants are often required to treat conditions that affect the blood and bone marrow, such as leukaemia or sickle cell anaemia.
Just over 396,000 people are on the bone marrow register but it is not enough to find a match for most patients.
The Anthony Nolan Trust charity receives about 1,400 transplant requests from UK patients annually.
Anyone interested in joining the British Bone Marrow Register needs to be aged between 18 and 49 and in general good health.
For more information, call 0300 123 23 23 or sign up to a similar register run through the Anthony Nolan Trust.