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Johnson Family Advances Mesothelioma Research With $500,000 Pledge To The Pacific Meso Center

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pacific Meso Center (PMC) gratefully acknowledges the generous pledge of $500,000 from the family of John Johnson, a military veteran who passed away from malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).  John Johnson's story and his horrific treatment by the U.S. legal system during his asbestos lawsuit which led to his early demise were chronicled by Michael Hiltzik in a Los Angeles Time's article ( Instead of being angry, the family is now challenging others, particularly attorneys involved in asbestos litigation to donate to PMC. The Johnsons will match such donations up to $500,000 thereby creating a $1 million fund which will be used for a collaborative research program with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mesothelioma is a diffuse and aggressive cancer of the chest lining (pleura) that is strongly associated with exposure to asbestos. Over one-third of the approximately 3,000 Americans who are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year served in the U.S. military.

"We want to help other families get diagnosed as early as possible, so that patients have a fighting chance to survive," said Sue Johnson, widow of John Johnson. Her pledge was prompted in part by the care her husband received at the VA. "Dr. Robert B. Cameron did everything he could surgically to save John, but by the time he was diagnosed, he was already stage III."

The Johnson family is hopeful that their pledge will jump-start the proposed Admiral Zumwalt Comprehensive Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program at the VA. The program's name-sake, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, the United States' Chief Naval Officer from 1970 to 1974, was exposed to asbestos while serving on Navy ships and passed away from MPM in 2001. The Admiral Zumwalt Comprehensive Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program would be located within the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.

PMC works in collaboration with doctors at the West Los Angeles VA and UCLA Medical Centers, who have extensive experience in treating this malady, to develop significant advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of MPM.  PMC's scientific advisor, Dr. Robert B. Cameron, has been treating MPM patients for over 20 years.  He focuses on treatments which "spare" the lung and treat MPM as a chronic disease.  Dr. Cameron will be chairing the 3rd International Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies on Saturday, May 18th, 2013 at the Sheraton Delfina Hotel in Santa Monica, CA. 

"The Johnson family's generosity is truly amazing," said PMC Executive Director Clare Cameron of the pledge.   "We would hope that the many law firms involved in the field of mesothelioma litigation, will do the right thing and step forward to match this funding and spur this initiative forward.  Their contribution will help with the development of the new center and greatly improve the way veterans are diagnosed and treated for MPM at the VA."

About The Pacific Meso Center:

The Pacific Meso Center (PMC) is a division of the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit medical research institute established in 2002 which is focused on the treatment and prevention of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). The exploration of innovative ideas forms the foundation of PMC's unique research program and provides the promise of future treatment breakthroughs. PMC is dedicated to educating the public on asbestos-related diseases and informing them of their best treatment options. PMC also connects newly diagnosed patients with patients that have been through treatment and provides assistance and emotional support.

For further information please contact: Clare Cameron 310-478-4678

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