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Gift to LVHN supports stem cell therapy program

The infusion suite at Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest is now called the Tom and Karin Hall Center for Infusion and Cellular Therapies. The announcement was made Monday at LVH–Cedar Crest and streamed on Facebook Live.

Brian A. Nester, DO, MBA, Lehigh Valley Health Network President and Chief Executive Officer, said every year, Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute cares for more than 5,000 patients with cancer and strives to offer the latest and individualized treatments close to home.

“The clinicians of Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute are dedicated to a single purpose day in and day out - delivering the highest level of compassionate and advanced cancer care to the members of our community,” Nester said. “Supporting us in doing this are individuals like Tom and Karin Hall, who, like us, are committed to continuously enhancing the level of cancer care available in our region.”

Nester said with generous support from the Halls, the Topper Cancer Institute looks forward to launching a stem cell transplant and cellular therapy program, which will be the first of its kind in the region and will allow eligible patients to receive these treatments for the first time in their own community.

“With that, we are honored to announce the naming of John and Dorothy Morgan Cancer Center’s infusion suite as the Tom and Karin Hall Center for Infusion and Cellular Therapies,” Nester said.

Suresh Nair, MD, Physician in Chief of Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, said the Halls’ gift specifically will support the creation of an apheresis unit in the infusion suite, which will be used to collect stem cells from patients for transplants and other cellular therapy regimens.

He said the gift also will be used to create a stem cell processing lab on-site at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest.

“Both components are essential for launching our stem cell transplant and cellular therapy program,” Nair said.

Nair emphasized that historically, patients in need of these treatments have traveled outside their communities for care and that they soon will be able to stay close to home as they undergo these difficult therapies, which is an immeasurable benefit.

“The Halls are creating a lasting legacy with their generous gift, and we are honored to share this accomplishment with them,” Nair said.

Nair said another key supporter of this initiative is Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute has been a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance since 2016, which has allowed the Cancer Institute to offer even more state-of-the-art treatments and clinical trials right here in the local community. He said the stem cell transplant and cellular therapy specialists at MSKCC will support the Cancer Institute in many ways during launch of the program.

Also speaking at Monday’s announcement were Tom Hall and Craig Sauter, MD, Clinical Director of the Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Service at MSKCC. Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have been collaborating on the MSKCC Alliance for over five years. MSKCC is one of the largest centers for stem cell and bone marrow transplants in the country, and in 1973 performed the first successful transplant between a patient and an unrelated donor. As Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute embarks on the journey to bring autologous stem cell transplants and cellular therapies to the local community, the experts at Sloan Kettering can share latest learnings, experience and advice through various programs through the MSKCC Alliance.

“Based on MSK’s collaboration with LVHN over the years, I have full confidence that the potential for tremendous success of the new infusion and cellular therapy program will be realized through the fantastic doctors, nurses and support staff at LVHN,” Sauter said.