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$2.5 million charitable gift to create Joseph Dresner Family Bone Marrow Transplant and Hematologic Malignancies Center at Karmanos Cancer Institute


Joseph and Helen Dresner
The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute recently received a $2.5 million charitable donation from Franklin resident Joseph Dresner to construct the Joseph Dresner Family Bone Marrow Transplant and Hematologic Malignancies Center at its main campus in Detroit.
 
According to Karmanos President and Chief Executive Officer Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., Dresner has generously supported the Institute in the past, with gifts now totaling $5 million. His latest donation will improve patient care and enhance communication among caregivers in this new center. Project details are yet to be determined.
 
"Patients being seen for diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) are often under the care of both our Malignant Hematology and Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Transplant multidisciplinary teams," Dr. Bepler said. "By creating one center, all doctors involved will be able to see patients simultaneously and plan and implement joint treatment plans. Thanks to Mr. Dresner's generosity, there will be better coordination among caregivers and they will have more efficient access to their patients."
 
Dr. Bepler added that this new center will expand Karmanos' ability to conduct future cancer research and clinical trials focusing on leukemia, multiple myeloma, lymphoma and MDS. "This will facilitate our ability to collect clinical data and samples for correlative laboratory research."
 
Dresner, 84, was diagnosed with MDS in 2002. The disease is chronic and is characterized by the ineffective production of myeloid blood cells which can lead to persistent tiredness caused by anemia, and susceptibility to bleeding and infections. Patients may need frequent blood transfusions or a bone marrow transplant. Although it is not the case for Dresner, approximately one-third of patients with MDS progress to acute myelogenous leukemia.
 
"My doctor, Charles A. Schiffer, M.D., is a wonderful man and a world-renowned physician in MDS. I am hoping that some day he or others will find a cure for this disease," said Dresner. "This gift to the Karmanos Cancer Institute is my way of honoring him in a fashion he would like."
 
Dr. Schiffer, head of Karmanos' Malignant Hematology Multidisciplinary Team, commented, "Joe is a wonderful, intelligent and thoughtful gentleman who expressed an interest in supporting our work at Karmanos. His gift is very genuine, touching and will further improve patient care and the efficiency of clinical research."
 
Dr. Schiffer added that he, his team and the Stem Cell Transplantation group led by Voravit Ratanatharathorn, M.D., and Joseph Uberti, M.D., Ph.D., are excited about being able to design a new clinic environment that will "benefit the hundreds of patients whom we see each month." He said that initial planning meetings are being arranged to plan for the Joseph Dresner Family Bone Marrow Transplant and Hematologic Malignancies Center.
 
Dresner, who says his "bone marrow is worn out" from MDS, must have a blood transfusion every two weeks. While his disease is treated by cancer specialists like Dr. Schiffer, it is not considered to be a "typical" cancer. Dresner, however, is no stranger to cancer. His wife passed away last month from lung cancer and he lost both his son and first wife to the same disease.
 
"I am happy that I have the ability to make this gift to the Karmanos Cancer Institute. This is something I want to do," Dresner added.
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