MUSC Health Blood and Marrow Transplant Program ranks in top 10% nationally for survival outcomes

Emma Vought
August 31, 2020
Bone marrow transplant team standing on stairs.
The MUSC Health Blood and Marrow Transplant Program team gathers at Hollings Cancer Center (before the pandemic).

This August, the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) reported that the MUSC Health Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program is among the top 10% of transplant centers that have exceeded predicted survival rates and one of only six that have achieved such excellence as a combined adult and pediatric program. The CIBMTR releases this ranking annually for center-specific comparisons of expected and observed allogeneic bone marrow transplant survival rates. Allogeneic refers to the use of stem cells from a related or unrelated donor that is an acceptable patient match.

Michelle P. Hudspeth, M.D., director of the adult and pediatric BMT program at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center and the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital, was humbled by the news. 

Dr. Michelle Hudspeth 
Dr. Michelle Hudspeth

“This really is a national recognition of excellence, comparing all of the 170 programs across the U.S., and at the end of the day, the outcomes are what matter to our patients. Earning this distinction highlights our singular focus on getting the right thing done for the patient and places us in a very elite group of centers,” says Hudspeth. “Our program is considered medium-sized and is the only program in this category designated as an over-performing center.”

For the 2019 release of outcomes, which averaged and compared the combined years of 2015-2017 for all participating centers nationwide, the MUSC Health BMT program's actual one-year survival rate was 81.1%. This outcome is considered above the expected rate for this center, based on multiple patient characteristics, qualifying it as an overperforming center. To put that into perspective, out of 170 participating centers across the country, only 17 are ranked as overperforming, placing the program in the top 10% nationally.

Hudspeth attributes the success of the program to teamwork. “We absolutely function every single day by having an amazing multidisciplinary team. We have hardwired our processes to deliver these incredible outcomes. In addition, we have pursued our unified vision for excellence with dogged determination which has pushed us forward to achieving these quality outcomes.”

A center's performance can be integral to patients deciding where they will receive care. The CIBMTR provides detailed information on U.S. transplant centers to help patients and providers to choose the appropriate transplant center for treatment. Survival-rate percentage is based on the actual one-year survival data that shows how many people were alive one year after transplant at a center. The ranking can be below, within or above the expected range for each center.

Cindy Kramer, R.N., program director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant and Oncology Navigation Program, was equally thrilled. “What this ranking means for patients is that they can receive top-rated care at MUSC without traveling to other transplant institutions and feel confident we will help them achieve the best survival outcomes possible in the nation,” she said. “Survival outcomes are an important metric for patients to use when selecting a BMT program, since it exemplifies the quality of care delivered, and we are excited this exceptional care can be delivered at MUSC Health. We have an incredible team committed to providing excellent patient care.”

For more than 30 years, MUSC has been South Carolina's bone marrow and stem cell transplantation leader. The program is the only combined adult and pediatric Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT)-accredited blood and marrow transplant program in S.C. Founded in 1987, the program has come to be recognized nationally for its quality outcomes and initiatives.

Robert K. Stuart, M.D., founder and former director of MUSC’s BMT program, is extremely proud of the recognition. “When I came to MUSC in 1985, it was my intention to create a BMT program as a vehicle to elevate the level of cancer care in the institution. In the beginning, it was a shoestring operation, but the support of other MUSC departments was enthusiastic and crucial: Laboratory Medicine, Blood Bank, Pharmacy, Radiology, Pulmonary/Critical Care, Infectious Disease and other medicine subspecialties. More recently, the Hollings Cancer Center and MUSC Health have given needed support. It is beyond my original expectations that MUSC would emerge as a national leader in the field.”

Robert K. Stuart, M.D. 
Dr. Robert Stuart

As a pioneer in many blood and marrow transplants, MUSC is the definitive source of hope for many adult and pediatric patients battling Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, myeloma, leukemia, other cancers and other diseases.

“It comes down to providing innovative, cutting-edge care, but we want to make sure we deliver that care with compassion,” said Hudspeth. “That's why having the whole package is important. I think it's really important to recognize these outcomes, and that's part of what drives us every single day. But we want our referring centers and our families and patients to know that we're here for the human side of things and to help them through this process successfully.”

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