||Thread Tools||Search this Thread||Display Modes|
Family says stem cell therapy has helped blind boy with cerebral palsy
By Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News
July 1, 2012
"Where's the green?" asked his therapist, Sara Wasser.
After a slight pause, Kaden reached out and plucked the green turtle out of Wasser's hand. A big smile spread across his face.
"Good job!" cheered Wasser.
A year ago, Kaden, of St. Clair Shores, couldn't see most colors. Born several months premature, he suffered a severe brain bleed as an infant and was later diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy and blindness. As a result, he could only see some shapes, colors and patterns.
Now, a year after receiving eight cord blood stem cell infusions in China, Kaden can see not only primary colors but pastels. His language has improved dramatically, and he's saying new words every day and speaking in some sentences, said his mother, Eddie (short for Elizabeth) Strek. Even his walking and balance have improved.
And his family believes stem cells have made all the difference.
"This has given him a whole new kind of independence and control over himself that he's never had," Eddie Strek said. "It's so exciting to see."
So happy with his improvement over the last year, the Streks are raising money for Kaden to go back to China for another round of stem cell therapy, hopefully next summer. They'll need about $38,000 for treatment and travel costs.
Stem cell therapy is available only for certain conditions in the United States, and cerebral palsy is not among them. The therapy has become a big business overseas, available everywhere from Mexico to Thailand.
Treatment programs are offered for a host of conditions, but they're often very expensive, and critics question their efficacy.
Beike Biotechnology, the firm that conducted Kaden's stem cell therapy, treats more than 200 international patients a month with stem cell therapy.
Researchers such as Larry Goldstein, director of the University of California San Diego's stem cell program, are very wary of overseas programs. They question where the stem cells come from and wonder about possible risks.
In a case such as Kaden's, Goldstein said it's hard to tell whether stem cells made a difference or if he improved on his own.
"That is what clinical trials are for," he said in an email last week. "Every disease fluctuates in symptoms, and kids with developmental diseases tend to continue developing albeit at different rates. How does one know whether the transplant caused improvement versus intensive physical therapy versus fluctuation versus normal developmental improvements that would have happened anyway?"
Eddie Strek disagrees. She said Kaden has received fairly extensive therapy his entire life. He now receives occupational therapy and speech therapy four days a week.
"There's just no other explanation" for his progress since the cord blood stem cell infusions, she said.
Eddie said she noticed a change in Kaden's vision within 48 hours after his first infusion in China last summer. She was talking with her husband, Tom, on Skype with Kaden next to her when Kaden wanted to get closer to the screen and was looking intently at his dad.
"He can see me!" said Tom.
Wasser, an occupational therapist with Children's Hospital of Michigan's Novi rehabilitation facility, said Kaden also is using the left side of his body now, something he didn't really do before stem cells. Kaden is the first patient Wasser has ever worked with who's had a stem cell transplant.
"I've been an OT for over 10 years, and this is the first patient I've ever had who has regained vision," Wasser said. "… For him, it's really teaching him to use something that he never had before."
That means teaching Kaden basic items such as cat, ball and bike. His mom said he knew what a cat said before, but didn't know what one looked like.
Working with Wasser during a recent therapy session, Kaden stared at an augmentative communication device the size of a laptop computer. The screen showed a grid with 15 squares. A bell popped up in one square. Kaden had to track it across the screen and tap it with a small pointer. Eventually, the grid got bigger and the bell got smaller, but he still found the bell.
Eddie Strek said it's frustrating that stem cell treatment largely isn't available in the United States, because "so many people could be helped."
"These are tangible results," Eddie Strek said. "Anyone that knew him before and sees him now, you can see the results. He's a different kid."
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...#ixzz1zPIaNtOR
First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.
I can attest to stem cells
My son had level 4 brain bleed at birth. His chances of survival were slim especially during his first 4 days. He survived miraculously according to the hospital doctors. With that same drive and determination to live, I had the same determination two years later after his CP diagnosis that I will muster up the same strength to find the best treatments for him and to fight for his rights for them. I started my research in stem cell treatments. At first I looked for the advice of the most prominent and respected experts in the field, here in the U.S., and as a novice, I took their advice as truth and gospel. Most of the feedback at that moment was totally discouraging and negative. Their take on overseas treatments, “they were all unproven and potentially deadly.” Then there was the media with negative reports like 60 Minute’s Snake Oil report. Worst thing, there were no options in the U.S. for my son. I think at the time there was only Duke with their autologous UCB clinical trials, but they were only looking for autologous umbilical cord stem cells from patients that banked their own. We did not bank our son’s. I wrote off the option of treating my son at the time, but I continued on with my research on the subject. I started with stemcellpioneers and just reading the threads as an observer and not a member. Soon after, I started reading articles on the subject and trying to become more knowledgeable on stem cell research. I also discovered the FDA’s unprecedented take on the topic by categorizing stem cells from your own body as a drug. Digging in deeper and finding the implications of how much this revolutionary treatment can change medicine being practiced and dramatically reducing the needs for prescription drugs, I was enlightened by the thought, ‘Hmm, I may have been mislead.’ As my investigation continued, I found more facts to legitimize my skepatism. Soon after, I started speaking to parents who had their children treated overseas. Yes, there were overseas quack clinics, but there were a lot of good ones as well. In my final conclusion, the only threat was big pharma’s profits and having both the FDA working together to discredit, disseminate stem cell treatments by intentionally stalling and setting up regulatory hurdles to prevent the inevitable revolutionary treatments that will eventually reduce billions in drug sale profits. In 2011, I finally decided to treat my son with donated UCB stem cells with an overseas clinic in Mexico. He was able to stand up more on his own, and now he is trying to verbalize. Was it stem cells? No doubt, it was obvious that my son improved through our own observations. Stem cells work. Imagine how much more we can accomplish if these treatments were finally allowed in the U.S. It is a bittersweet thought of how sad they are trying to stall it, but at the same time, once the unleashing power of stem cells will eventually make its way to the public for all to witness, millions will demand for it. There is no other medical treatment out there as an alternative that can hold a candle to stem cell treatments potentially curing millions, especially any prescription drug the pharmaceutical companies can offer.
Last edited by LLL6521; 07-02-2012 at 10:00 AM.
|Thread Tools||Search this Thread|