BRISTOL – A $2 million donation from a Bristol couple will allow Wellmont Health System to become one of the first healthcare providers in the United States to acquire groundbreaking technology used in the treatment of cancer and other diseases.

The $2 million donation from J.D. and Lorraine Nicewonder represents the largest gift in Wellmont’s history. Wellmont will use the monies to purchase a CyberKnife Stereotactic Radiosurgery System – a state-of-the-art robotic system that delivers powerful radiation with pinpoint accuracy to kill tumors.

Presently, just seven health systems in the country possess CyberKnife technology. Georgetown University Hospital is the only CyberKnife provider on the East Coast.
“J.D. and Lorraine Nicewonder’s gift is a true example of sacrificial giving,” Wellmont President and Chief Executive Officer Eddie George said. “The impact of their generosity ¬on the health of our region cannot be overstated.

“The CyberKnife will save lives. We have J.D. and Lorraine to thank for that.”

Manufactured by Accuray Inc., the CyberKnife employs image-guided technology similar to that used by the Pentagon to target cruise missiles. A lightweight linear accelerator attached to a robotic arm generates up to 100 beams of radiation that attack diseased tissue.

Because the radiation is delivered with sub-millimeter accuracy, tumors and other abnormalities receive a concentrated dose of radiation, but the impact on surrounding normal tissue is minimized. The CyberKnife allows physicians to treat tumors throughout the body – including tumors that once would have been inoperable.

Treatment is completely non-invasive, requires no anesthesia and is usually completed on an outpatient basis. The Wellmont CyberKnife will be housed at Bristol Regional Medical Center.

“The Cyberknife is a new and ingenious device that focuses powerful radiation treatment on discrete targets within the head and body with great accuracy,” Wellmont Bristol Regional neurosurgeon Matthew Wood, MD, said. “This will significantly expand our treatment options for patients with various tumors, both benign and malignant.”

Wellmont officials expect to file a certificate-of-need application for the CyberKnife technology within the coming months. Following state approval, a specialized addition will be constructed at Bristol Regional to house the equipment.

The CyberKnife should be operational next year.

“On behalf of our health system and our region, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Nicewonders,” said Wayne Kirk, chairman of the Wellmont board of directors. “It’s a true joy to work in partnership with these fine individuals who share both our love for the people of this region and our passion for healing.”


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