To kick off 2022, founders and board members from the nonprofit organization, Press On Fund, presented a check for $250,000 to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia in January. This gift will help establish a pediatric bone marrow transplant unit at Georgia’s second largest children’s hospital. Transplants are now standard for many children’s cancers, such as recurring leukemias and lymphomas and for severe immune diseases such as hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. Stem cell transplants are also being used increasingly for sickle cell disease. For decades, children and families in the Augusta area who needed this complex medical procedure had to leave town, often for months at a time.
Dr. Amir Mian was recently recruited from Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Ark., to be the chief of pediatric hematology/oncology at the Medical College of Georgia and the director of the new transplant program at Children’s. Because the Georgia Cancer Center at AU Health System has had a successful adult stem cell transplant program in place since 1997, Mian believes this will expedite the efforts to establish the BMT program for children. For instance, the lab and support services are already well-versed in the proper retrieval, storage, and reinfusion of stem cells and about the required reporting to national agencies.
“Those are the aspects where the Georgia Cancer Center is going to be extremely helpful because they’ve done it for a long time and they have all of the structure in place,” Mian said. “The right people at the right places are already working there so we’ll tap into those resources.”
This gift by the Press On Fund is part of a $1 million pledge made in 2019 to support childhood cancer treatment and research. Press On has already provided $500,000 to the Georgia Cancer Center to support the pediatric immunotherapy program, led by physician scientists Drs. Theodore Johnson and David Munn.