UW Professor E. Donnall Thomas, who pioneered bone marrow transplantation, which has saved the lives of thousands of people with leukemia and other blood diseases, died Oct. 20 in Seattle. Thomas, a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, received the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1990.
Thomas grew up in a small town in Texas, the son of a physician. He began doing research in the 1950s at a time when most everyone with leukemia and other blood cancers died. Thomas conducted the first bone marrow transplant on a leukemia patient in 1956 using donor cells from the patient’s identical twin.
Upon hearing the news of his death, one patient said, “In your efforts you very likely sacrificed time away from your family, and in doing so, you gave us more time to spend with ours.” Thomas was 92.—Julie Garner