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The Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation announces the official opening of the New Brunswick Stem Cell Transplantation Program Lab

SAINT JOHN- Today, the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation in collaboration with Horizon Health Network and the Department of Health announced the official opening of the Hospital's new Stem Cell Transplantation Program lab.

The focus of The Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation's campaign, The GIVE 2011, was Stem Cell Therapy. The campaign raised$700,000to equip the state-of-the-art laboratory for the province's only Stem Cell Transplantation Program.

Stem cell therapy is used to treat cancer patients who are undergoing extreme doses of chemotherapy. The patient's healthy stem cells are extracted from the patient's blood before they begin their chemotherapy and are injected back into the patient's bloodstream upon completion of their treatment. The healthy stem cells assist in restoring the patient's immune system.

"I am pleased that the Department of Health was able to contribute approximately $556,000 to the Stem Cell Transplantation program which includes funding for start-up costs and annual operating costs," said Saint John Lancaster MLA Dorothy Shephard on behalf of Health Minister Madeleine Dubé.  "Stem cell transplants are a critical part of care for patients with cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma. Having a transplant program which is available to all cancer patients in the province will reduce their burden by allowing them to receive stem cell transplants right here inNew Brunswickinstead of having to travel outside the province."

The Stem Cell Therapy Transplantation program is led by Dr. Terrance Comeau, Hematologist Oncologist and Director of Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation at theSaint JohnRegionalHospital. Over the last three years Dr. Comeau and his team successfully completed a pilot project to test the sustainability and accredit the program. A total of 15 patients were treated during the project. This involved the collection of the patient's stem cells at theSaint JohnRegionalHospitaland the assessment and freezing of cells completed inHalifax.  It is expected the program will have the capacity to treat approximately 50 cancer patients per year.

"We know that having Stem Cell Transplantation available in our province will touch the lives of many New Brunswickers. And, countless more have the potential of coming through the doors in the days, months and years to come," said Steve Titus, Campaign Chair. "It is extremely comforting to know we have such an outstanding team and hospital. This message truly resonated with our donors and we thank them for allowing us to provide the best equipment to the best team."

Through the generosity of its supporters, the Foundation purchased the required specialized equipment, which included a flow cytometer, step-down freezer, long-term storage cryopreservation tanks and software specific to accessing and safe-guarding a patient's stem cells.

"Horizon is fortunate to have the expertise of Dr. Comeau and his team to lead this innovative and important program that will improve access to cancer care treatment in theprovinceofNew Brunswick," says Donald J. Peters, President and CEO, Horizon Health Network. "We are grateful for the generous support of the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation and Department of Health to fund the new lab, which will provide specialized equipment for stem cells to be counted, frozen and stored while the patient is completing their chemotherapy."

Biography Dr. Terrance Comeau

Dr. Terrance Comeau grew up inSaint John,New Brunswickand attendedDalhousieMedicalSchool.  He returned toSaint John, to lead the Blood and Bone Marrow transplantation program at theSaint JohnRegionalHospitalafter spending 15 years at Chapel Hill inNorth Carolina.  Dr. Comeau is an accredited Hematologist/Oncologist with the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy with a specialization in Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation. 

About the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation Inc.

The Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation Inc. and its partners raise funds to make good healthcare better for New Brunswickers. In addition to raising money for the Saint JohnRegionalHospital, the Foundation also raises funds for MindCare New Brunswick, The New Brunswick Medical Education Trust, The Extra Mural Program and the New Brunswick Heart Centre. For more information, please visit www.THEGIVE.ca

About Horizon Health Network

Horizon Health Network is the largest health-care organization in Atlantic Canada, operating 12 hospitals and more than 100 medical facilities, clinics and offices providing medical services ranging from acute care to community based health services toNew Brunswick, northernNova ScotiaandPrince Edward Island. With 1,000 physicians, an annual budget exceeding $1 billion and approximately 13,000 employees, Horizon Health Network's strategic vision focuses on research, innovation and education.

 

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Contact Information:
Victoria Clarke
Director,Saint JohnRegionalHospitalFoundation
506-648-6400 main, 506-648-6410 direct
Victoria.Clarke@HorizonNB.ca 

 

Jennifer Graham
Communications, Department of Health
506-453-2536
jennifer.graham@gnb.ca

 

Sonya Green-Haché, SeniorMediaRelations Advisor
Horizon Health Network
1-877-499-1899
media@HorizonNB.ca 

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