In large part because of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation (BMT) program at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Michael Andrews is four-and-a-half years cancer-free.

Yesterday, the seven-year-old and his family celebrated the success of ATB Financial’s 2010 Teddy for a Toonie Campaign, which raised a record-breaking $300,000 for the BMT program.

Michael personally benefited from BMT not long after he was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma tumour and underwent five rounds of chemotherapy.

 

In September 2005, he underwent a stem-cell rescue procedure, during which his own cells were harvested. In that process, said Dr. Victor Lewis, head of BMT, “we replace an old, dysfunctional immune system with one that is new and normal.”

He added that there are life-threatening side-effects of BMT, but that “the alternative is unthinkable.”

“Without (BMT) I don’t know if his cells would have regenerated as fast,” said Lisa Colford, Michael’s mother. “Now he’s at home and doing fantastic.”

Dr. Lewis called Michael’s story a “true success” in light of past statistics. Twenty years ago, he explained, less than 20 per cent of children who had Michael’s disease survived. Today, the survival rate is 70 per cent.