Dr. Hans Messner
Earlier this month, the stem cell transplantation program was renamed the Messner Allogeneic Transplant Program to honour the legacy of Dr. Hans Messner, who passed away today. (Photo: UHN Visual Services)

Dr. Hans Messner, a cherished physician and colleague who pioneered stem cell transplantation at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and stayed to help thousands of patients during his remarkable career, died at the centre today.

In June, Dr. Messner reflected on his almost 50 years at the Princess Margaret as he inspired thousands of cyclists with a heartfelt message at the start of the annual Ride to Conquer Cancer, a fundraising event in which he was a rider for 10 years on his beloved "Heme Team."

He spoke of his personal journey at the cancer centre "as a (clinical) provider for 50 years, a rider for 10 years and a patient for five years with metastatic disease and a chance of five per cent to live for five years.

"The medical prowess is only one side of the coin," Dr. Messner told the crowd. "The smile, soft touch, embrace when spirits droop … the prowess and humane delivery of treatments is what signifies the PM Cancer of Hope Centre."

Dr. Messner
Dr. Messner performs one of the first stem cell transplants at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in August 1977. (Photo: Mr. Nazir Jamal)

In July, the stem cell transplantation program was renamed the Messner Allogeneic Transplant Program to honour his legacy.

Although Dr. Messner said he was retiring after 44 years, he never really did. In his final weeks, despite increasing frailty, he continued to come to work to consult with and advise his colleagues.

When one teased him saying, "I guess you're never going to retire." His reply, with a customary twinkle in his eye, was: "Might as well keep going!"

A visitation will be held at the Humphrey Funeral Home, 1403 Bayview Ave., Toronto on Tuesday, July 31 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. A funeral mass will be held at Blessed Sacrament Church, 24 Cheritan Ave., Toronto on Wednesday, Aug. 1 at 11 a.m.

If desired, donations in memory of Dr. Messner can be made to the Messner Allogeneic Transplant Program, through the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. ​
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