In 1981, bone marrow transplants were just beginning to be used to treat some blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. UNMC physician Anne Kessinger, M.D., wanted to know if there was another way of collecting stem cells from the blood of patients to use in their transplant.
At the time, the only way to collect stem cells from the bone marrow was to put the patient under general anesthesia, insert a needle into the hipbone 100 or more times until enough stem cells were collected for a transplant. Dr. Kessinger felt there had to be an easier and less painful way.
With the help of the Omaha Red Cross, Dr. Kessinger and her colleagues figured out a way to collect the cells through a special process through veins in the arm. The process was effective and enabled the use of peripheral blood stem cell transplantation in humans. The therapy provided an alternative and is now standard practice around the world.