The most rewarding part of my job is being able to really take some of the most immunocompromised patients and get them through a very difficult type of treatment, but with the potential for a long-term remission.
My name is Sagar Patel. I'm a physician at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in the Division of Hematology and Hematologic Malignancies in the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program.
So I specialize in blood and marrow transplant, as well as cellular therapies. So, this involves using chemotherapy and/or radiation to treat a variety of both malignant and classical hematology disorders.
What are common misconceptions about bone marrow transplant?
So, a common misconception about bone marrow transplants is that it involves surgery and/or a painful operation to actually receive them. However, it actually is an infusion of stem cells and these stem cells can come from either that particular patient, depending on the disease, or from a totally different person—a donor. Stem cells are really progenitor, early kind of mother cells that can then give rise to other types of cells, that are essential for the human body to function.
What interested you in hematology?
I was fortunate during my internal medicine residency training to be able to do rotations on the bone marrow transplant unit. And at first I wasn't really sure what to expect, but quickly learned that this was an incredible opportunity. I think the most rewarding part of my job is being able to really take some of the most immunocompromised patients on our campus and get them through a very difficult type of treatment, but with the potential for a long-term remission.
What are you up to on your days off?
So in my time off I really enjoy both hiking and travel, and so I sometimes like to actually be able to combine those. And so I've been fortunate enough to be able to go on a few trips and to other countries, actually to do just that. So I've been to Iceland and Turkey. The attraction of some of these trips when I go is really just seeing landscapes and geography that I couldn't even imagine.
Who would you trade lives with for a day?
Former President Barack Obama—I think you know being able to make very complicated decisions, especially with information that may be incomplete and leading, you know, very complicated diverse teams. These are actually, you know, things that I do on a much smaller scale. And so, I think that would be an incredibly valuable learning opportunity and being able to also do that with sort of grace and humility, especially in that sort of position I think is incredible.
What makes Huntsman Cancer Institute special?
When patients come here in one of my sort of emphasis and focus on their care is to really make sure that every single piece and element of their care has been brought to sort of full bear. And so this includes having a pathologist re-review their original biopsies, having radiologists re-review their PET scans from wherever they may have obtained them.
And then when I evaluate a patient I really want to bring in not only my expertise, but my entire division's expertise and reach out to the very expert that writes those publications for that particular disease. And so this way patients get the most comprehensive level of care possible.