ORONO, Maine — Maine coach Shawn Walsh will return on Monday to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., where he will undergo outpatient tests for one week in preparation for a stem cell transplant. He will then receive week-long chemotherapy treatments designed to suppress his immune system so that his body will accept the stem cells.
Walsh was diagnosed with kidney cancer last summer after which his left kidney was removed. He then went through two rounds of immunotheraphy treatments in August and October. However, tumors had spread to his left lung and under his breastplate, prompting the removal of that lung and “debulking” of the remaining tumors at NIH on Mar. 29.
In the upcoming transplant, Walsh will receive stem cells — immature cells that will develop into blood cells — from his brother Kevin. If the transplant is successful, the new cells will grow, multiply and attack the cancer cells.
The actual transplant is expect to occur in mid-May, after which Walsh will remain in the hospital for the rest of the month during which his doctors will monitor his body’s acceptance of the stem cells. He will stay in Maryland with his brother through mid-July for continued tests.
(Check back for a detailed interview with Walsh in the next few days.)