Stem Cell Therapy for Cerebral Palsy: Sarai’s Story

girl with cerebral palsy sitting at a table coloring

A cerebral palsy diagnosis changes the lives of individuals and their families. Yet, amidst the challenges, there lies a glimmer of hope. Stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy may improve symptoms and enhance quality of life. In this blog post, we talk to Elizabeth, who shares the journey of her daughter Sarai, diagnosed with cerebral palsy at younger than two years old.

Sarai was diagnosed with mild spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy at a very young age. Her mother decided to try stem cells after other forms of treatment didn’t perform well. She says that stem cell treatment laid the groundwork for Sarai’s improvement. Sarai’s doctors and therapists have been amazed at her progress since coming home.

Watch our video below to see how stem cell treatment for cerebral palsy in Panama has changed another family’s life.

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Sarai was diagnosed with mild spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy at less than two years old. Although her case was mild, spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy is considered to be the most severe form of cerebral palsy. This is because so much of the body is affected by the condition. 

This includes: legs of a girl with cerebral palsy sitting in her wheelchari

  • Not being able to walk in most cases
  • Being prone to seizures
  • Difficulty speaking

Early interventions and treatments are available. However, people like Sarai require a lifetime of care and support. While a specific type of cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy develops like any other form of the condition. Namely, due to brain damage before, during, or shortly after birth. 

These complications can occur for several reasons, such as:

  • Prematurity
  • Fetal infection
  • Fetal stroke
  • Maternal infections
  • Exposure to toxins

Fortunately, stem cell treatment for cerebral palsy may be able to help. Elizabeth, Sarai’s mother, brought her daughter to Stem Cell Institute Panama at the beginning of August 2011 when she was about 16 months old.   

They had tried hyperbaric treatments—a form of oxygen therapy. Elizabeth says that they worked for a while. Unfortunately, she noticed that the results lessened a little bit over time. She says, “It would make Sarai’s spasticity better and then, little by little, I’d notice it start to come back three to five months later. The whole thing was very expensive and time-consuming.”

All of that changed with stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy at Stem Cell Institute. As Elizabeth can attest: 

Sarai is walking with assistance after stem cell therapy in Panama. She couldn’t even stand before.

Sarai’s Response to Stem Cell Therapy for Cerebral Palsy 

Sarai was walking with very little support within five months of undergoing stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy. “Ever since we got the stem cell transplant, there’s been tons of progress,” says her mother. “The major thing that I relay to people is that the stem cell treatment kind of put the cells in place to rebuild everything.

After her treatment, Elizabeth took her daughter straight from our Panama stem cell clinic to the NAPA Center. World-renowned for its pediatric therapy, Sarai completed a three-week intensive physical therapy program. 

This program lasted four hours per day and helped her become a completely different person four weeks later. Afterward, Elizabeth reported Sarai’s pediatricians saying, “This is the most amazing, miraculous thing I have ever seen. She’s a completely different kid. Where did you go?”

According to Elizabeth:

Once the stem cells migrated and rebuilt, all of the sudden she was able to do all these things crazy quickly. It was unbelievable. She went from not being able to sit to sitting, standing cruising furniture by herself; without any assistance at all and she couldn’t even lift up her trunk prior to coming to Panama. Out of 100% being fully recovered, I would say she has had an 85% recovery since before the stem cells.

Elizabeth believes that physical therapy never would have worked without undergoing stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy beforehand. “I know that the stem cells kind of laid the groundwork for that progress to be made,” she explains. “But I definitely believe that doing the intensive right after the stem cells sealed the deal. I don’t think it was just the stem cells. I think that doing one right after the other made the progress amazing.”

doctor and assistant walking down the hallway of stem cell clinicDiscovering Stem Cell Institute in Panama

Elizabeth was active in Yahoo Groups and reading about parents who have had positive results with stem cells. Our clinic would come up again and again in her research on stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy. Eventually, she applied, saying, “They were really on top of getting back to me and answering all of my questions.” 

She wasn’t alone in her search. Elizabeth’s father has a background in law enforcement, and he employed his skills to help find the best treatment for his grandchild. “He said that he wouldn’t pay some crooks to inject my kid at some random place in Panama,” she says. “After everything checked out, he helped me pay for it. And I am so glad that we got to do it.”

Sarai’s Experience in Our Panama City Clinic

“We tell people all the time that it was the best medical care we’ve ever received since our daughter was born,” says Elizabeth. “The hospitals, doctors—they were all far superior in patient care. They were prompt, professional, loving, and they still check in with us all the time.”

Elizabeth was also impressed with how skilled our team is at inserting an IV. Recalling the scene, she says: 

I’ve never seen someone nail an IV that quickly. Randy Bowen, MD, who did all of Sarai’s IV injections was just so good. On the second day, she actually started handing him her arm. Instead of crying when she was about to get an injection, she would look a little scared and just hand him her arm like, ‘Alright, just get it over with.’

What Sarai’s Doctors Think of Her Recovery

Elizabeth doubted her daughter’s pediatrician would approve of stem cell therapy for Sarai. That’s why she chose to make an appointment without ever telling him. Elizabeth made an appointment with the pediatrician as soon as they got back from Panama and the NAPA Center.  

Recounting the experience, Elizabeth says: 

I had her [Sarai] sitting on the table by herself and he walked in and said, ‘Oh, my God! What did you do?’ I told him that we actually took her to get a stem cell transplant and he said, “This is the most amazing, miraculous thing I have ever seen. She’s a completely different kid. Where did you go?

Sarai’s pediatrician asked for the clinic’s information including everyone’s name and number. He also said, “I would have tried to talk you out of it so I am so glad you didn’t tell me. What happened to your child is unbelievable and it makes me want to fight and advocate for stem cells.” He’s been specializing in neuro-developmental delays for a long time and said that he would do everything he could for the rest of his life to advocate for this therapy.

At the NAPA Center, Elizabeth would constantly be told, “I’ve never seen a child progress so quickly.” They watched her spasticity go away as her strength increased. The therapists told her that it’s unusual for a child to progress this quickly and that Sarai was doing exceptionally well.” 

All of our therapists – when we got home to Hawaii – they said the same things, ‘This is like a completely different child. This is unbelievable.’ And they asked me, of course, where we went.

stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy

After a cerebral palsy diagnosis at a very young age, Sarai’s mother began looking for answers. She tried other forms of treatment but they never panned out as planned. This eventually led her to stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy. Since undergoing treatment, Sarai has improved by leaps and bounds. According to her mother, it was a crucial catalyst for her progress.

Stem Cell Institute in Panama City, Panama is at the forefront of applied stem cell research. Since our creation in 2006, we have performed over 50,000 procedures, helping thousands of families across the United States and around the world embrace the opportunity for a better life. Our medical team prioritizes the safety, health, and well-being of all our patients through top-notch evaluation and care.

*This blog was originally published in November 2012. It has been updated for freshness and clarity.

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