Milton Wright III meets the lab technicians who engineered his T-cells and helped save his life.

Milton Wright III meets the lab technicians who engineered his T-cells and helped save his life.

Some moments are so significant the weight of them seems to hang in the air. I experienced this first-hand when cancer survivor Milton Wright III met the people who helped save his young life.

You may remember Wright, the leukemia patient who achieved remission thanks to an immunotherapy protocol designed by Mike Jensen, MD, at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Wright is doing well and recently had a chance to meet the scientist who designed his therapy, the technicians who modified his cells and the family whose foundation helped fund his treatment.

“I would not be here without them”

Jeff and Carin Towne lost their son Ben to neuroblastoma in 2008. To save other parents from losing their children to cancer, the Townes created Ben Towne Foundation, which is helping to accelerate Jensen’s immunotherapy research by contributing funds to the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Without the community’s generosity, Jensen said the trial would not have been recruiting patients when Wright’s life depended on it.

“I connected with the Townes right away,” Wright said. “I would not be here without them. I was so sad about their son and I wanted to let them know I would not take this life for granted.”

The Townes said they were honored to meet Wright.

“Milton is an incredible young man,” they said. “It is amazing to know his life has been changed because of the generosity of Ben Towne Foundation supporters and the work of the team at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research.”

Wright with Jeff and Carin Towne.

Wright with Jeff and Carin Towne.

“Their hearts were in their throats”

Wright also reconnected with Jensen and met the technicians who reprogrammed his T-cells. For many of the researchers, this was the first time they had ever met a patient who benefitted from their work on this trial.

“It was the perfect juxtaposition of ‘what’ we are trying to accomplish with the ‘who’ we are trying to help,” Jensen said. “While bricks, glass, mortar, air handlers, and clean room ‘bunny’ suits separated them physically, I guarantee you their hearts were all in their throats. It was a beautiful moment.”

Wright left Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research that day excited about the future.

“I felt lucky to have met the people who worked on something that saved my life and to get to thank them in person,” he said. “I wish more people would donate to cancer research so the work could move even faster and save more people.”

See Wright tour Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research in this KING 5 HealthLink

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Wright at Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research.

Milton Wight III will be speaking at Seattle Children’s Guild Association Annual Meeting and Luncheon Celebration on May 9. This event is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased online

Media who would like to arrange interviews with Dr. Mike Jensen, the Towne family or Milton Wright should contact Seattle Children’s PR team at 206-987-4500 or press@seattlechildrens.org.

See more images of Milton Wright in our online Flickr gallery.

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