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Valley Children's Gets 'Historic' Gift to Boost Cancer Treatments. How Big Is It?
gvw_nancy_price
By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 4 weeks ago on
May 2, 2024

A $15 million gift will enable Valley Children's Hospital to expand cancer treatment and therapies. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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A $15 million donation to Valley Children’s Hospital will expand its ability to provide the most advanced bone marrow transplant and T-cell therapy for youngsters who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The anonymous gift, which the hospital called “historic” in a news release Thursday, is one of the largest single donations in the hospital’s 70-year history.

It will support not only the establishment and accreditation of the advanced cell therapy program for pediatric cancer, but also operational funding for the first 10 years.

The program will take three to four years to achieve accreditation. Having the program at Valley Children’s will eliminate the need to refer future patients who need advanced treatment to facilities in the Los Angeles area or Bay Area.

“This gift will bring transformational cancer therapies directly to the children whose families look to us to provide them with the best care in the country,” Todd Suntrapak, president and CEO of Valley Children’s Healthcare, said in the news release. “Children who need these advanced therapies will no longer have to travel long distances and spend extended days away from home to get treatment and will be able to receive life-saving therapies in a familiar setting, with their families close by.”

State-of-the-Art Therapy

The new program will include providing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, an advanced genetically engineered therapy that uses the body’s natural immune system to fight cancer and infections. The patient’s disease-fighting T-cells are modified with additional receptors or proteins that allow them to identify and destroy infected or cancerous cells.

In a key CAR T-cell study published in 2021, approximately 60% of children who underwent the therapy were cancer free after five years. Without the therapy, it is likely that all of them would have died, the hospital said.

The new program also will involve bone marrow transplant to treat certain forms of cancer in children by replacing diseased cells with other healthy marrow cells from their own body, an approach that has been in use for more than 50 years.

“These therapies are some of the most powerful weapons we have in our cancer-fighting arsenal, but they also require a combination of medical expertise and specialized equipment to deliver effectively,” Dr. Vinod Balasa, medical director of Valley Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, said.

“With this amazing donation, Valley Children’s joins the ranks of the top children’s hospitals in the nation that can offer these therapies, as well as be among the first to have access to future advances. This is a life-saving advancement for our patients.”

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Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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