Transplant voices

To mark the 30-year anniversary of the first blood and bone marrow transplant at UNMC and The Nebraska Medical Center, UNMC Today talked with doctors, patients and staff about the program. This is the third in a series.

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Nancy Wurtele
We asked:

"What difference has having a transplant made in your life?"

Nancy Wurtele, Nebraska City, second patient to receive a transplant, answers:

"I was having a chemo treatment the day that Dr. Armitage came to see me. For the first time in my treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, I heard the word cure! I was 34, the future was not bright, and by the time I drove home, I decided to 'go for broke,' all or nothing - but God gave me everything! In the 30 years since the inception of the bone marrow transplant program, I believe that God "touched" the doctors who created the program, the doctors who implemented the program, and the doctors and researchers who are continuing the program! I am now 64! It gave me 30 extra years of life!"

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James Armitage, M.D.
"What have you learned from your patients about medicine and the field of transplantation?"

James Armitage, M.D., professor, internal medicine, answers:

"One of the really special things of what I do is I get to know these really interesting people from all over the world and get to see how brave people are and help them deal with these problems. It's a very rewarding thing to do. They can go on and live their life and have kids or see their grandkids. I've treated probably thousands of people. I have patients who I'm friends with, and I know their family. After being faced with cancer, I've seen patients live more than they ever had before - doing stuff they really care about. I've learned you should not put off the things you've always wanted to do."

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JoAnn Tate

What has it meant to you to be part of the transplant program?

JoAnn Tate, patient liaison, UNMC division of oncology/hematology, answers:

"Being part of the transplant program here at UNMC has been an honor for me. Every day I meet the most courageous, wonderful people. They teach me so much every day about hope, strength, survival and gratitude. They come here facing a fatal disease and most of them leave knowing they have they have their lives back to continue living life to the fullest. I leave work every day feeling grateful to have met these folks."