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Patient Travels Cross Country for BMC’s Unique Treatment for Rare Blood Disorders

Healthy today because of BMC's expertise in rare
blood disorders, Rabbi Moshe Re'em now runs
marathons to honor his good health.

BMC’s reputation for providing state-of-the-art, high-quality care extends well beyond Boston. When Rabbi Moshe Re’em of Pennsylvania had a kidney biopsy that showed evidence of a rare blood disorder, he was referred to Boston Medical Center for treatment. That decision changed his life.

While physically Rabbi Re’em had no symptoms, he was developing kidney failure. His kidney biopsy showed that he had a very unusual blood disease called crystal-storing histiocytosis, similar to the disease AL amyloidosis, a bone marrow plasma cell disorder and protein deposition disease that has been studied by physicians and scientists at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine for more than 40 years. If Rabbi Re’em’s disease progressed, he could have faced dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Boston Medical Center nephrologist Laura Dember, M.D., confirmed the diagnosis and she and the other physicians, including David Seldin, M.D., chief of the Section of Hematology-Oncology, director of the Amyloid Program and Rabbi Re’em’s hematologist at BMC, recognized that Rabbi Re’em’s disease started in his bone marrow. Aggressive chemotherapy and a blood stem cell transplant offered the best hope of putting the disease into remission and saving Rabbi Re’em’s kidney function.

“I was shocked to learn I had such a serious disease,” comments Rabbi Re’em. “I had no sense I was so sick.” Upon his consultation at BMC, “the staff was extremely patient and thorough in explaining the disease and building my confidence so that I could fight, and win,” says Rabbi Re'em.

BMC has a unique Stem Cell Transplant Program, directed by Vaishali Sanchorawala, M.D., in that it strives to keep patients out of the hospital as much as possible. This avoids exposure to hospital infections, allows patients to be more active and adhere to their own dietary preferences. Rabbi Re’em was hospitalized for a portion of his treatment, when he developed a serious pneumonia. However, after 10 days in the hospital, he was well enough to be discharged and went home less than a month after his transplant. He had a speedy recovery and was soon back to work helping others in his congregation, after months of focusing on his own health.

It has been five years since Rabbi Re’em first came to BMC in search of answers and a treatment plan. To honor his health, at age 50, he began running and completed two 26.2 mile marathons in the past year. He pushed himself to prepare for the 2009 Boston Marathon, a celebration of his success and health.

“Coming back to Boston and running the marathon to raise money for rare blood diseases and cancers is my way of thanking the many guardian angels at BMC who helped me during a frightening and challenging time,” comments Rabbi Re'em. “Their support and extensive knowledge of rare blood diseases saved my life.”