The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Honors the Memory of E. Donnall Thomas, M.D., the First to Show that Bone Marrow Transplants Can Save Lives of Blood Cancer Patients

Dr. Thomas was a Long-Time Advisor to LLS

Oct 22, 2012, 14:01 ET from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) was deeply saddened to learn of the passing this weekend of E. Donnall Thomas, M.D., the pioneer of bone marrow transplantation.

Dr. Thomas, winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, performed the first successful bone marrow transplant between two humans to treat leukemia in 1956. The patient and donor were identical twins.

He was an advisor to the Leukemia Society of America (former name of LLS) at the national level in the 1960s and also advised LLS's Washington/Alaska chapter for many years.  Thomas had been a member of the faculty of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center since 1974. Dr. Thomas was also the recipient of LLS's Return of the Child award in 1997, which recognizes an individual who has made a major and lasting scientific or humanitarian contribution to the better understanding, management or treatment of blood cancers.

When Dr. Thomas began his groundbreaking work in the 1950s, bone marrow transplants were seen as a highly risky procedure with poor outcomes. Despite other physicians abandoning the approach, Dr. Thomas persevered, and in 1969 carried out the first successful transplant using a donation from from a sibling who was not a twin. Eight years later his team performed the first matched transplant from an unrelated donor. Today bone marrow and stem cell transplantation have become a curative therapy for many patients, and many LLS-funded researchers are working to make them safer and more effective.  

"Our thoughts are with Dr. Thomas's family," said LLS President and CEO John Walter. "His influence has been deeply felt throughout the blood cancer community and his vision and determination have led to tens of thousands of lives saved."

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.  

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit or contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Andrea Greif
W: (914)821-8958
C: (914)772-3027

SOURCE The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society