Are you up for a new treatment?

I have been watching a docu-series on Stem Cell therapy, called Healing Miracles. I had known of stem cell treatment, but nothing in detail. I also found out about Texas’s House Bill 810 through this documentary. I may have seen the video of Republican State Rep. Drew Springer speaks about adult stem cell treatments with tears (above video) really briefly, but I never had a chance to dig into what it is about.  The bill is also called Charlie’s Law. It was named to honor former State Representative Charlie Howard, who recently died of cancer. Charlie’s Law would allow patients with terminal illnesses or severe chronic diseases access to experimental stem cell interventions and permits clinics to charge patients for their costs even though it is “experimental”.

For those of you who are not familiar with what stem cell treatment is, I copied the explanation from NIH (National Institutes of Health). “Stem cells are cells that have the potential to develop into some or many different cell types in the body, depending on whether they are multipotent or pluripotent. Serving as a sort of repair system, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells for as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each “daughter” cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell”.

Currently, there are very few stem-cell treatments are approved. According to the FDA website, “The only stem cell-based products that are FDA-approved for use in the United States consist of blood-forming stem cells (hematopoietic progenitor cells) derived from cord blood. These products are approved for limited use in patients with disorders that affect the body system that is involved in the production of blood (called the “hematopoietic” system).”

You will see many clinics offering stem cell treatments across the country when you search on Google.  Many clinics isolate adult stem cells from a patient’s own fat or bone marrow and reinject them, promising to heal injured joints, rejuvenate aging skin, or even repair damage from neurological disorders and autoimmune disease.  Maybe a decade ago, the only option for those seeking stem cell treatments was to fly to Mexico, Caribbean, or China. Now in the US nearly 600 clinics are marketing unapproved treatments because they are in really high demand, and the FDA hasn’t established a solid policy like they have for pharmaceutical medicine.

Are you up for a stem cell treatment? If you are in pain all the time and not able to get out of bed, or if your child is suffering from a paralyzed body with no ability to use either their arms or hands caused by an accident, or if your spouse developed a cancer that is incurable with conventional treatment, would you pursue stem cell therapy?  There are actual stories about patients who have received stem cell treatments and regained a pain-free, disease-free normal body.

However, there is always risk involved with any type of treatment, and stem cell treatment is no exceptional. Three women with macular degeneration became permanently blind after undergoing an unproven stem-cell treatment.

A man, who suffered from a stroke, went to Mexico, Argentina, and China to get stem cell treatment. However, instead of physical recovery, the entire lower part of his spinal column was filled with a large mass which came from stem cells injected into his spine.  Moreover, a woman who had a “facelift” stem cell injection went to see another plastic surgeon 3 months later because she was still in pain and noticed her right eye was clicking. The surgeon found small chunks of bone from her eyelid and the surrounding tissue. There are not only adverse reactions, but also, there are cases of death from stem cell treatment.

I know it is hard to decide, but after watching the documentary videos and researching online, I think it is worth it to look for the best clinic or to join a clinical trial. A Closer Look At Stem Cells website gives you a list of questions you can ask a doctor at a stem cell clinic. Make sure that the doctor discloses all possible risks and details the procedure he/she is going to use. Clinical trials are funded by institutions and/or government, so if you don’t like the idea of being a guinea pig and paying a high price for an experimental treatment (This is the Charlie’s Law), you can check out The New York Stem Cell Foundation and/or California Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

I believe that stem cell therapy gives us hope and a bright light at the end of the tunnel for many people who live with chronic illness and debilitating disease. As consumers we must do our due diligence to make sure we are getting the right advice and treatments, and not just going with a program because we hear what we want to hear.


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