Kids Beating Cancer Opens Pediatric Transplant Center 08/16/12
Kids Beating Cancer, an Orlando-based nonprofit that provides access to treatment for children with life-threatening diseases, recently celebrated the grand opening of Central Florida’s first and only pediatric bone marrow and stem cell transplant facility. The eight-bed unit named the “Kids Beating Cancer Pediatric Transplant Center” is located at Florida Hospital for Children and offers new possibilities for the treatment of cancer, leukemia, sickle cell anemia and 72 other malignant and non-malignant diseases.
The name designation is in recognition of Kids Beating Cancer’s $1-million pledge in 2011 to subsidize out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance or Medicaid through its “Fund the Match” program. The pledge ensures children receive life-saving transplantation regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay. With average pre-transplant costs ranging from $10,000 to $45,000 per child, few families have the resources required to even initiate the process. To date, 13 children have been transplanted with funding made available through the Kids Beating Cancer pledge.
One of those children is fifteen-year-old Mikala Barnes who was the 12th child treated through the Kids Beating Cancer’s “Fund the Match” program and the first pediatric marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. Mikala’s father, Michael Barnes, said he wanted the transplant to happen locally, so they would not have to relocate.
“We could have had the treatment in Gainesville or St. Petersburg, but Kids Beating Cancer allowed us to be able to stay at home,” said Barnes. “We wanted Mikala to be comfortable in a familiar environment where she could have visitors. It made the difficult process a whole lot easier.”
By having a transplant facility in Orlando, sick children can remain close to their support network, eliminating additional stress and financial burdens of travel and temporary housing. Formerly, treatment was provided in the adult transplant unit at the hospital. Now, led by medical director Dr. Paul Gordon, children will be able to receive treatment in a facility designed specifically for the comfort and unique needs of children.
The grand opening of the Kids Beating Cancer Pediatric Transplant Center coincides with the 20th anniversary of the nonprofit. Over the past two decades, Kids Beating Cancer has tested 37,000 potential marrow donors, served 5,600 sick children and raised $9 million for medical expenses not covered by insurance or Medicaid.
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