Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Improving The Lives Of The Disabled, One Stem Cell At A Time

15 Apr 2011Wouldn’t it be great if there was some wonderful cure for all different types of disability? To cure those born with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, sufferers of Strokes, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease and victims of Spinal Cord Injuries. Besides therapy and surgery, there hasn’t been much of a development in the treatment of these types of illnesses and disabilities.

However, I have come across a treatment that seems to be quite promising. Stem cell therapy, and not the type that has been labelled as ‘unethical’ by religious groups either. The type of therapy that I am referring to is one that is being used at a treatment centre in Germany.

The way that this stem cell therapy differs to the original embryonic stem cell type is, instead of using stem cells that have been harvested from a fertilised egg, the specialists from the Xcell-Centre in Germany, collect adult stem cells from a patient’s own bone marrow, to be reimplanted back into their body. This eliminates any ethical concerns and eradicates all possibilities of the stem cells being rejected from the patient’s body, as they are already a match, due to originating from the patient to begin with.

So far, reports show on the Xcell-Centre website, that there is a very promising outcome for most patients who have already received one or more treatments.

The treatment is currently only available in Dusseldorf, Germany, at the Dominikus Hospital.

Treatment usually requires a stay of 5 – 10 nights, with the procedure being undertaken in the hospital’s outpatient department, meaning that patients are allowed to leave the hospital in the evenings, and stay in a hotel or other accommodation overnight, returning to the hospital during the day.

The downside of the treatment is, there are no guarantees, as with anything in life. This treatment isn’t as effective on some people, as it is on others, and some patients will require multiple visits to achieve their desired outcome. The cost of the treatment is quite expensive too, with a single visit costing between $AU13,000 - $AU24,000. But if it can change the life of someone with a severe disability, then what is the price of independence?

Parents are willing to do anything to get their children treated at the Xcell-Centre. For Australian mother, Melissa Corben, she is desperate to get help for her son Joel, who was born with Cerebral Palsy. She is willing to do almost anything to raise the funds to help her son receive possibly life changing treatment.

Melissa is currently trying to gather $22,000 from anyone who is willing to help her son out. She is also organising raffles and fundraising events as well.

In Joel’s case, he would require his own bone marrow to be harvested from his hip bone, stem cells would then be separated from his bone marrow, and the stem cells would be injected into the cerebrospinal fluid, which transports them up to the spinal canal and into the brain.

So far, the noted results for some patients with Cerebral Palsy who have received the treatment include, reduced spasticity, more balance and improved neurological functions.

To learn more about the Xcell-Centre in Germany, visit their website: http://www.xcell-center.com/

Melissa is asking for as many supporters as possible to assist her 13-year-old son, Joel, in getting to Germany to receive treatment. If you would like to donate to them or have some ideas of how you could help them out, you can email Melissa at: [email protected]

I have sent an email to the Xcell-Center for myself, to see if they are willing or able to assist in the treatment of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI or brittle bones), which is what I have. When I hear back, I will update this story, for those who are interested. On their website, it says that they do treat patients with Osteoporosis, but there was no mention of OI. If this is possible, it would be very exciting news!

If anyone has had this treatment, or knows of anyone personally who has had it, please comment and let us know how you or they did and if it worked or not. And let’s all wish Joel good luck and hope he and his mother make it to Germany!

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