Dr. Hans Messner—compassionate physician and ‘founding father’ of bone marrow transplantation

On Wednesday, January 27, colleagues, friends, family and former patients of Dr. Hans Messner gathered to celebrate his amazing career and commitment to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

As a ‘founding father’ of bone marrow and stem cell transplantation, Dr. Messner has not only extended the lives of thousands of blood cancer patients, but he has given them a higher quality of life while dealing with the disease.

Dr. Messner’s leadership helped propel the development and growth of an allogeneic bone marrow transplant program (transplants between unrelated donors) at The Princess Margaret, and established it as an internationally recognized treatment centre.  On average, The Princess Margaret performs over 300 bone marrow transplants each year.

As techniques and technologies for bone marrow and stem cell transplants advanced, it was recognized that enhanced levels of skill and strict standards of practice were needed for laboratories and hospitals.  Dr. Messner was asked by Health Canada to establish the Canadian Standard for Cells, Tissues and Organs for Transplantation.  In 2001, The Princess Margaret became the first hospital in Canada to build and operate a cell processing facility employing the highest standards and technology of the time.  Dr. Messner was the first director of the facility.

In 1981, Dr. Messner established the Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant Group, and was the founding President.  He also initiated and organized the first Canadian Bone Marrow Transplant Conference in 1985, a summit that is still held every two years. 

And, as a physician who always made fitness and exercise a regular priority, Dr. Messner was quick to sign up and support The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation when the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer was launched.  He has participated in all 8 Rides, is usually one of the early finishers, and has encouraged his colleagues and patients to participate.