Spokane oncologist performs 300th life-changing transplant procedure since 2005

Spokane oncologist performs 300th life-changing transplant procedure since 2005

A Spokane oncologist that has saved hundreds of lives, marked a special milestone Monday, as he performed his 300th procedure. It’s called autologous bone marrow stem cell transplantation, and it’s a way of giving high-dose chemotherapy to cancer patients.

The transplantation can improve survival rates from blood cancers, like multiple Myeloma, Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

While ‘autologous bone marrow stem cell transplantation’ sounds like a really long medical term, and has a pretty complex meaning to it, to a patient – it simply means hope.

“Okay, big smile. This is our routine,” said Dr. Hakan Kaya, oncologist for Cancer Care NW, said to his 300th transplantation patient.

The saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” However, the photos Dr. Kaya takes at his cancer patients’ procedure appointments are worth, quite literally, a lifetime.

“Our second transplant patient, I see her all the time. We always tease her – hey, number two. She has her transplant in 2005. 14 years ago, and she’s still doing well,” Dr. Kaya said.

Dr. Kaya started the stem cell transplant program in Spokane in 2005.

Each procedure, he takes a photo. The same photo with gleaming eyes of hope from both doctor and patient.

John, from North Idaho, is patient No. 300.

“It’s hard to imagine that without that – that little bag – I may not be here in a week, or two, or three,” John said.

That little bag is his life.

“What we do is called autologous transplantation which is when you use the patient’s own stem cells,” Dr. Kaya said.

John was diagnosed with lymphoma.

“So this little bag has 150 million bone marrow stem cells in it,” Dr. Kaya said.

As with every procedure, there is a risk for complications. But for now, John and his doctor are taking it one day at a time, just like the first 299.

When KXLY4 asked John how he felt when he looked at his bag full of his stem cells, he answered, “hopeful.”

Dr. Kaya started the transplant program 14 years ago. At first, only a handful of procedures were being performed each year, that’s since grown. In 2018, Dr. Kaya performed 33 transplants.

Catch up on the day’s news and look ahead to tomorrow by signing up for the Daily Local email newsletter from KXLY4. Headlines, events, and staff picks every weeknight at 8 p.m. Sign up HERE to get your news on the D.L.