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Carolinas Medical Center opens adult bone marrow transplant unit

Adult patients with blood cancer who have been on a waiting list for bone marrow transplants will soon be able to get that treatment in Charlotte at the region’s first such unit, scheduled to open Wednesday at Carolinas Medical Center.

The 16-bed unit will allow Charlotte-area patients to be treated closer to home for the first time. “If a patient needs a transplant currently in Charlotte they have to go two hours away,” said Dr. Belinda Avalos, vice chair of the Department of Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders at Levine Cancer Institute. The nearest transplant centers are at Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill.

Nine patients will be moved into the unit Wednesday, and more will follow soon. “We anticipate in pretty short order to have it filled all the time,” said Dr. Edward Copelan, the department’s chairman.

The $10.5 million project, in renovated space on CMC’s fourth floor, includes a “positive-pressure environment” with filtered air to minimize the risk of infection for patients with weakened immune systems. In addition to 12 patient rooms and four intensive-care rooms, the unit includes a six-bay area for collecting blood from donors and a laboratory for processing and freezing stem cells.

Because treatment and recovery can last up to six weeks, the unit also includes an exercise room, laundry room and lounge for patients and family members.

Karen Garloch

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