International stem cell transplant saves top OC chef from rare blood cancer

Cells from recipient’s daughter travel from Europe to California for complex procedure

November 30, 2023
orange county chef pascal olhats laying in a hospital bed in a blue gown receiving stem cells from his daughter who lives in france
Top Orange County chef Pascal Olhats being infused with stem cells
from his daughter, who lives in France. Credit: Pascal Olhats.

IN THE NEWS: Top Orange County chef Pascal Olhats is grateful to the team at the UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center for the stem cell therapy that is keeping him alive.

KABC7 television news logo blue white blackOlhats’ daughter, who lives in France, was the best donor match for the bone marrow stem cell transplant he needed to treat his rare angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. Her blood stem cells were harvested and sent overnight for transplantation by Dr. Stefan Ciurea, who directs the UCI Health Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program. It is the only such program for adults in Orange County.

Ciurea spoke to ABC7 about the procedure.

"It is a very complex procedure, probably one of the most complex procedures in medicine, and probably one of the riskiest because we're not giving chemotherapy only. We're changing the patient's…immune system and that exposes one to higher risks, especially infectious complications."

Olhats, an award-winning Orange County chef for more than three decades, founded the restaurants Tradition, Café Jardin Restaurant & Pascal’s Tea Garden Creperie and Pascal’s Café.

Ciurea is a professor of hematology/oncology at the UCI School of Medicine. He is the author of more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and more than 10 book chapters. He also has served as principal investigator on multiple clinical trials, including investigator-initiated trials. He has been invited to speak at more than 50 meetings and conferences around the world, including as keynote speaker.

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