HealthThe Examiner

Bone Marrow Transplant Recipient Looks to Help Others With Same Plight

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Andrew Lippmann of Chappaqua is in Washington this week to convince lawmakers to approve additional funding this year for NMDP (formerly the National Marrow Donor Program) and to pass the Lifesaving Leave Act.

When Andrew Lippmann meets with congressmen and U.S. senators from across the country this week in Washington, it won’t be a typical lobbying effort from one of many special interest groups – at least not for Lippmann.

Thousands of lives are potentially on the line when he and other cancer research advocates seek lawmakers’ support for an increase of funding for NMDP (formerly the National Marrow Donor Program) from $33 million to $35 million next year and passage of the Lifesaving Leave Act. The proposed legislation would ensure that people who decide to be a bone marrow donor will not lose their jobs if they need to take time off to donate.

“This program affects Republicans and Democrats, this illness,” Lippmann said. “There’s no selection on political sides, so (the funding) usually passes, but there’s a lot of people looking for federal funds.”

For Lippmann, 65, the issue is personal. When he started his advocacy efforts in 2018, it was two years removed from having received his own bone marrow transplant. He had been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in 2009, and in 2015 he was diagnosed with a second and even more aggressive lymphoma. That culminated in his March 2016 bone marrow/stem cell transplant.

While finding a match was relatively easy for him because of his European heritage – a woman from Colorado had been identified as a donor – there are many people awaiting transplants, particularly in minority communities or those of mixed heritages, who must wait longer and run the risk of never finding a match, Lippmann said.

The challenge of finding a compatible bone marrow donor in underserved communities may arise because of some historically greater mistrust of the medical community, therefore there are fewer donors, but also because more people may not have employers that would allow them to take leave to be a donor when there is a match, he said.

Currently, there are more than 41 million donors in the registry.

“There’s a loophole in the law that people who donate bone marrow themselves don’t have that (job) protection,” Lippmann said. “It was just an oversight, apparently. Every congressman and senator who we talked with doesn’t see the issue. It’s clearly an oversight, but it provides protection for people.”

Until he turned 50, Lippmann never had to worry about his health. He was a partner in the real estate department of Loeb & Loeb, a large national law firm. Lippmann and his wife and their two sons lived in Chappaqua.

The bloodwork taken during a routine physical exam uncovered that his blood cell counts were off.

Lippmann said he started a pretty aggressive treatment regimen, but the leukemia was resistant to chemotherapy. Once he had the lymphoma, it was obvious that his only chance at survival was to have a bone marrow transplant.

“I would not have been alive more than two years after my (lymphoma) diagnosis if I didn’t have the transplant,” Lippmann said of his situation. “I don’t want to be dramatic, but it was serious.”

The database turned up the woman in Colorado who was a match, and the transplant was done at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

“I was lucky I live in the New York area. We have access to state-of-the-art doctors and universities and studies and clinical trials, so that’s one of the benefits of living in this area,” Lippmann said.

He was in remission for about three-and-a-half years, but by the end of 2019, one of the cancers returned. Lippmann underwent treatment, and it is now nearly two years since he’s been in remission. The uncertainty if and when one of the cancers return, can also have a negative effect, he said.

“It was a shock,” Lippmann said of the initial diagnosis. “I was a marathoner; I still run. I was in very good health. I never spent a day in the hospital. There were no real health issues and this just hit me out of the blue.”

After the transplant, Lippmann tried to return to work but soon realized that he would be unable to sustain the pace of his work life. Since his wife is also an attorney and they were able to save money, Lippmann could afford to retire and concentrate on his health and his advocacy work.

The efforts undertaken each year by him and the many supporters and advocates are to make sure that others have the same chance at life with similar diagnoses.

“It has changed my life, as you’ve heard about cancer patients,” Lippmann said. “I’m much more contemplative of the time I have. We shouldn’t have to get cancer to live the best life we can. You can’t do it every day, but take five minutes every day and just be thankful.”

To learn more about NMDP or about how to become a donor, visit



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