Taking Your First Steps At 5 Years Old

July 06, 2017

Note: This video describes one family’s experience using cord blood stem cells in an emerging area of science called regenerative medicine. This experience has not been confirmed or validated through a clinical research study. Each patient’s medical history and treatment outcome is different. Other factors such as aging, physical therapy and occupational therapy may have caused par or all of these results. Banking cord blood does not guarantee that treatment will work and only a doctor can decide when it can be used.

I spent six years as a Labor & Delivery nurse, helping bring hundreds of babies into this beautiful and sometimes crazy world. With each birth, the wonder of it all struck me like lightning. These tiny lives — so small and innocent, yet so full of potential — will have opportunities and experiences we can’t even imagine. They will have science and technology bring the best of humanity. They will have joys and pains, dreams and failures. Their future began right there, in that moment.

Fifteen years later I find myself struck by the wonder of it all again — except this time I’m not in an L&D room. For the past decade and a half I’ve been working in the world of cord blood stem cells. It’s been amazing to see the science evolve over the years and to witness the number of families that have benefited from using stem cells in a time of medical need.

Since 1988, cord blood stem cells have been used in transplants to replace damaged blood cells with healthy ones and help rebuild immune systems after certain life-threatening diseases such as cancers, blood disorders, and immune disorders. Today, cord blood stem cells can be used in the treatment of nearly 80 life-threatening diseases.

Thanks to advancing science and technology, efforts are underway to help uncover new uses for these incredible cells, in an area known as Regenerative Medicine. Regen Med is the science of living cells used to potentially regenerate or facilitate the repair of cells damaged by disease, genetics, injury, or simply aging.

Though in the early stages, clinical research studies in regenerative medicine are offering hope that cord blood stem cells may prove beneficial in young patients facing life-changing medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy1 and autism2; conditions once thought untreatable.

And this is where the wonder strikes: the ongoing research studies in Regenerative Medicine are inspiring new optimism for the future. To think that the cord blood stem cells saved at birth (in the same delivery rooms that I spent days as an L&D nurse) can possibly help kids facing these life-altering conditions is so encouraging. Kids may now have the opportunity to experience things they, or their families, never imagined. They can have more joys than pains and live as healthy a life as possible.

Today I want to share one little boy, Ashton’s, experience with you. Doctors used Ashton’s own cord blood stem cells to help treat his condition, cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that affects muscle coordination and body movement. Each year 10,000 babies and infants are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It is most often caused by brain injury or an abnormality in the brain resulting from infection or trauma sustained in the womb or during the early years of life. The types of injuries that most often cause the disorder are usually not foreseeable or preventable.

References

  1. Cord blood stem cell therapy has great but unproven potential to significantly advance the treatment of patients with acquired and genetic brain diseases. Jessica M. Sun, Joanne Kurtzberg. “Cord blood for brain injury.” Cytotherapy, 2015; 17: 775-785.
  2. When optimally dosed, cord blood may improve motor function in young children with cerebral palsy.Jessica Sun, MD, Mohamad Mikati, MD, Jesse Troy, PhD, Kathryn Gustafson, PhD, Ryan Simmons, MS, Ricki Goldstein, MD, Jodi Petry, MS, OTR/L, Colleen McLaughlin, DNP, Barbara Waters-Pick, BS, MT(ASCP), Laura Case, PT, DPT, Gordon Worley, MD and Joanne Kurtzberg, MD. "Autologous Cord Blood Infusion for the Treatment of Brain Injury in Children with Cerebral Palsy." Oral and Poster Abstracts presentation. 57th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition; December 7, 2015; Orlando, FL. Abstract 925.

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