Joseph Jackson’s Story

Multiple Myeloma Patient with Unique Needs is Treated with Stem Cell Transplant and Bloodless Medicine Techniques 


“My life changed in an instant during my routine physical exam,” recalls Joseph Jackson. “My blood protein levels were so high that my primary care physician stopped what she was doing, called an oncologist and made an appointment for me on the spot.”

Joseph’s follow-up exam and a bone marrow biopsy revealed multiple myeloma, an aggressive form of bone marrow cancer. 

Every patient’s journey through a cancer diagnosis and treatment is challenging. A potentially devastating challenge loomed for Joseph: The metropolitan Washington hospital where he was initially referred could not perform a stem cell transplant, a common treatment for multiple myeloma, without a blood transfusion, and a blood transfusion is against Joseph’s religious beliefs.

Fortunately, Joseph knew of the Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Program (BMSP) at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

“When my doctor referred me to MedStar Georgetown, I was hopeful.” Joseph called the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and learned that a bloodless transfusion was possible with the expert team at the MedStar Georgetown Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Program.

Joseph Jackson during treatment
Mutliple myeloma patient, Joseph Jackson, with one of his nurses. Joseph and and his wife said MedStar Georgetown’s nursing and medical staff became like a second family.

David Vesole, MD, director of the Myeloma Program, and Scott Rowley, MD, director of the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Services, guided Joseph’s treatment plan. The program is unique in the Washington, D.C., area, with specialists who have extensive experience in treating the most complex cases and high-risk patients.

Bloodless surgery techniques avoid blood donor transfusions entirely. A relatively new concept for many patients, MedStar Georgetown BMSP team has offered bloodless surgery alternatives since 2011. In fact, the program was established specifically to coordinate high quality, compassionate and respectful care for patients like Joseph.

“Advances in transplant medicine have made it possible to treat many more patients with unique needs and complex conditions. We could treat Mr. Jackson because of our expertise in bone marrow and stem cell transplant medicine, in tandem with our expertise in bloodless medicine and surgery,” says Dr. Rowley. “But a lot of credit goes to Mr. Jackson. He was determined to find treatment and recover.”

Joseph Jackson and his wife
Multiple myeloma patient, Joseph Jackson, and his wife Valerie.

It wasn’t long before MedStar Georgetown’s nursing and medical staff became like a second family to Joseph and his wife, Valerie. His oncology nurse coordinated all aspects of his care, from his hospitalization and financial issues, to paperwork required by his employer to document his care.

“My nurse, Leslie, took such a personal interest in our family. I’ve never experienced such professional and caring attention.” Team members were by his side each morning of his hospitalization. This personalized attention characterized his entire experience at MedStar Georgetown, explains Joseph.

Joseph said the expert team at MedStar Georgetown made him forget about his serious diagnosis. He received his first stem cell transplant in 2015 and the second transplant in 2016. “I recommend my team to anyone seeking this type of medical care. They are compassionate professionals.”