Leukaemia survivor turns 58 after marrow transplant aged 24

Leukaemia survivor Glenn Tracy celebrated his 58th birthday at Westmead Hospital today, 32 years after receiving his bone marrow transplant.

Mr Tracy received his life-saving treatment at just 24 in August 1981 and has not had any relapse since the procedure. 

He was joined at his birthday cake-cutting ceremony by current leukaemia patient, Connie Facchin, 61, who underwent the hospital’s 1,025th bone marrow transplant on Friday last week.

Westmead Hospital’s Professor Mark Hertzberg from the department of haematology said the procedure offers hope to high-risk patients where conventional treatments have failed. 

“This treatment offers high-risk patients the best possible chance of long-term survival, or in fact a cure,” Prof Hertzberg said. 

The transplant procedure has rapidly evolved since its introduction at Westmead Hospital in 1981, with a wider range of patients now having access to the potentially life-changing treatment. 

Westmead Hospital is now treating about 65 patients a year, compared to just 5 to 10 in the 1980s. 

Prof Hertzberg said previously transplants were only accessible to patients up to 55 years of age who had very restricted types of blood cancers. 

“We are now treating patients up to 70 years of age with a wider diversity and higher complexity of blood and bone marrow cancers.

“Advancements have also meant that patients no longer need to rely on siblings who are genetically matched. More than half of our recent transplants have come from matched volunteer donors from Australia, Germany, the US and elsewhere.” 

Glenn Tracy (right) and Connie Facchin are Westmead Hospital's first and 1,025th bone marrow transplant recipients.

Glenn Tracy (right) and Connie Facchin are Westmead Hospital's first and 1,025th bone marrow transplant recipients.

Glenn Tracy:

Diagnosed at 24 with acute myloid leukaemia. He went on chemotherapy and then into remission for nine months. The leukemia came back and he was identified as a suitable candidate for a bone marrow transplant. He has now completely recovered and is living a healthy life.

Connie Facchin:

Diagnosed with chronic lymposhemic leukemia at 50 in 1999, she is now 61. She was stable without any treatment intervention for many years. Last year her disease become more aggressive with the rapid development of an abdominal mass. It was determined that she wasn't going to improve so she was a suitable candidate for a transplant from her brother. Connie received her transplant on Friday, March 14 and is now recovering at Westmead.


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