First bone marrow transplant


Dr. E. Donnall Thomas In 1969, E. Donnall Thomas, M.D., led the team at the U. of Washington in Seattle that performed the first bone marrow transplants on adults with leukemia. In that first study, the patients were prepared with total body irradiation and their donors were all matched siblings. Even though the transplant itself was a success, the very first patient died shortly afterwards of an infection.

Dr. E. Donnall Thomas was a recipient of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Today, thousands of transplants with blood forming stem cells (from either bone marrow, peripheral blood, or cord blood) are performed each year and the survival rates of common leukemias are in the 90% range.

Dr. E. Donnall Thomas passed away at age 92 on 20 Oct. 2012; the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center collects funds to support research in his memory.


  1. Buckner CD, Epstein RB, Rudolph RH, Clift RA, Storb R, & Thomas ED; 1970 Blood 35:741 (original work)
  2. Thomas, ED, & Blume, KG; 1999 Biol. of Blood and Marrow Transplantation 5:341–346 (historical review)

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