Jewish Journal

Family of Cancer Patient Hopes for a Stem Cell Miracle

by Jessica Pauline Ogilvie, Contributing Writer

March 16, 2010 | 4:55 pm

Jeff Tohl endured testing, five months of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant during the three years that followed his cancer diagnosis — a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. With a clean bill of health and regained strength, he thought he was out of the woods.

But when his white blood cell count dropped again in November 2009, Tohl, who was treated for mantle cell lymphoma, discovered he was part of an unlucky minority:  Following a stem cell transplant, 7 percent of patients are at risk for developing leukemia. To keep the leukemia at bay, he’d need another stem cell transplant, this time from a donor. But as a Jew, he soon discovered that finding a donor would prove nearly impossible.

After three years of illness and worry, Tohl’s family decided it was time to take action. They have since become active in organizing events to raise awareness about stem cell donation with the hope of finding a possible match for Tohl.

“Suddenly I realized, we [can] be more proactive,” said Ellen Pressman, Tohl’s wife.

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