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Gahanna man receives transplant using own stem cells

Marc Howard was one of the first two-dozen or so patients to receive autologous stem cell transplants through OhioHealth’s new Blood and Marrow Transplant program.

GAHANNA, Ohio — Marc Howard still does not like needles. And that’s saying a lot given how many he’s had to face in the past couple of years.

He’s been dealing with multiple myeloma, a cancer that forms in the plasma cells. He’s been taking medication and going through chemotherapy. But what he needed was a stem cell transplant.

“You can’t give up, any situation that you go through,” Howard said.

And he has not given up, thanks to the constant support of his longtime love, Sonia Grant.

“You hear about cancer, no matter what form of cancer it is, you hear about it, but when it hits someone that you love and you care for, and plan to live the rest of your life with, it’s grueling to watch them lie there or to watch their physical changes that they have to endure every day, to see them changing right before your eyes,” she said. “And there’s literally nothing you can do besides support.”

10TV first shared the story of Howard’s struggle last spring. He was preparing to become one of the first patients to receive an autologous stem cell transplant through OhioHealth’s new Blood and Marrow Transplant program. That type of transplant uses the patient’s own cells.

“We wipe out the bone marrow and then infuse the stem cells, and then those stem cells really magically work their way into your bone marrow, into the bone marrow and start producing new cells,” said Dr. Yvonne Efebera, medical director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy program at OhioHealth.

Since the first patient was admitted to the in-patient floor for the program at the Bing Cancer Center back in October, Dr. Efebera said nearly 30 patients have received autologous stem cell transplants.

Howard received his on Dec. 30.

“I’m hoping and praying that things did exactly what they were supposed to do,” he said. “But regardless, I got to be here, things must continue, this thing called life.”

Howard will go back in a couple of months for a checkup to see if the procedure knocked out his multiple myeloma.

In the meantime, he and Grant say they will trust the process and their medical team.

“If we have to go further, we’ll just go further,” Grant said. “I mean, we can endure.”

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