Stem cell treatments for MS: Lou Ann Giunta

“I am less spastic, have slightly better balance and more
stamina when exercising and moving about. I still have some incontinence 
issues, but it’s less severe.
”

“I hope you and all the Panama medical people are well.
 I am emailing to report an improvement from the Stem Cell treatments. This 
improvement is not just occasional but has been steady for 2-1/2 weeks or 
more. As of today, I have been home from stem cell treatment 5 months and 3 
days. 

Specifically, I am less spastic, have slightly better balance and more
stamina when exercising and moving about. I still have some incontinence 
issues, but it’s less severe.
 These improvements although subtle I feel are very real improvements and I
 hope they continue.”

2012-12-04T16:50:44+00:00December 4th, 2012|Multiple Sclerosis, Patient Stories|

Stem cell treatments for mutiple sclerosis: Janice Gonzales

“I am able to write legibly and have more energy than I have had in years. I exercise everyday and use a walker for short distances. I still use my scooter if I have to go far.”

“It will be my pleasure to write about my experience. I have MS and went to Panama for 2 weeks of Stem Cell Treatments. All of the procedures were painless. The Dr’s and staff genuinely cared about the patients. The daily physical therapy combined with the treatments have already improved my fine motor skills. Before I left Panama, I was able to hold a glass of ice water without shaking or spilling. Since I have returned, I am able to write legibly and have more energy than I have had in years. I exercise everyday and use a walker for short distances. I still use my scooter if I have to go far. My dream is to walk unassisted in the near future.”

2012-12-04T16:47:44+00:00December 4th, 2012|Multiple Sclerosis, Patient Stories|

Stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis: Richard Humphries

Stem Cell Institute Community Outreach (February 26, 2011 – Dallas, Tx) – Richard describes his miraculous recovery from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and how stem cell therapy at the Stem Cell Institute took him from crawling to the bathroom and being effectively bedridden to playing and teaching golf once again.

Stem cell treatments for multiple sclerosis: Dennis Trammell

Biomedical Ethics in a Brave, New World

By Ken Camp, Managing Editor
Published: May 07, 2010

POSSUM KINGDOM — When Dennis Trammell exhausted treatments available in the United States for his multiple sclerosis and began looking at other options, he excluded from consideration any possible regimens involving embryonic stem cells.

“I didn’t even explore that,” said Trammell, pastor of First Baptist Church at Possum Kingdom Lake, near Graford.

The list of ‘can-do’ options in health care get longer each day; hence, also the ‘ought’ questions and the complexities.

His health problems started in 1999 with decreased vision in one eye, diagnosed as a case of optic neuritis. When similar symptoms occurred in his other eye two years later, he was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS. He began a series of conventional treatments, including once-daily injections that helped manage the illness temporarily.

But in July 2008, his illness advanced to secondary progressive MS. Two months later, he went to Costa Rica for stem-cell treatments not available in the United States—but not before he checked on the source of the stem cells.

Dennis Trammell – “Results have been mixed. …But since the treatment, a daily nap is no longer needed”

“I really questioned before agreeing to take part in the treatments what type of stem cells were used,” said Trammell, who serves on the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board. While some countries allow experimental treatments using embryonic stem cells harvested from abortions, Costa Rica did not, he learned.

His treatment involved stem cells harvested from the umbilical cords of full-term births, administered by injection into his spinal cord to repair damage to the brain caused by MS. That was coupled with an intravenous infusion of his own stem cells, harvested through liposuction. The goal, he explained, was to “reset” his immune system.

Dennis Trammell

Results have been mixed, he reported. Initially, he experienced improvement in balance, but it proved short-lived. Use of his left arm has diminished in the last year, he noted. But a lasting benefit of the treatments has been a marked improvement in his energy level.

“I had gotten to the point where a nap was needed on a regular basis. But since the treatment, a daily nap is no longer needed,” he said.

Before he was diagnosed, Trammell already had determined certain boundaries existed in terms of medical treatment that he could not cross in good conscience. Other Christians sometimes fail to consider these kinds of issues until confronted with them in a doctor’s office or hospital waiting room.

“We’re still dealing with the age-old question: ‘Given what can be done, ought we?’ But the list of ‘can-do’ options in health care get longer each day; hence, also the ‘ought’ questions and the complexities of knowing right from wrong, good from bad,” said Tarris Rosell, professor at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Rosemary Flanigan Chair in the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Mo.

While subjects like nanotechnology, reproductive cloning, genetic engineering and artificial intelligence capture the imagination of some bioethicists, those are not the issues most people face, said ethicist David Gushee.

“I sometimes wonder whether there isn’t a bit of a science fiction fetish here, in which for some it is just fun and interesting to ponder ethical issues from a future that hasn’t reached us yet. I would prefer to deal with the ethical issues that face us right now,” said Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University.

“Very difficult health care decision-making remains a reality that everyone faces at one time or another, and not just at the end of life. My own family’s recent experiences in the health care system remind me that it has its own momentum and practices that are simply taken for granted from within the system,” he said. “As Christians, we do need to have a broader vision that asks questions rather than simply taking for granted the way things are.”
In recent weeks, Gushee’s wife, Jeanie, had an appendectomy, and his sister, Janette, had surgery to remove a brain tumor.

“All the talk of autonomy and informed consent bumps up against the realities of how little laypeople understand what doctors are saying and doing. Time pressures in situations of crisis, situations which also tend to limit our rational capacity as we are overwhelmed by fear and confusion and pain, also make it very difficult to exercise judgment either for ourselves or for someone else,” he said.

“Recently, I faced a situation where the doctor called me in the waiting room from my wife’s surgical suite during her appendectomy to ask me whether she should also take out the gall bladder. I had moments to decide, on the basis of very limited information, whether to authorize this irreversible surgery. I said no. But it was a tough call, and I had very little information, and of course, I had only met that doctor about 48 hours before.

“We need ways to slow down the decision-making process whenever possible, to empower patients and families with better information and more choices, to point us to websites and other sources of broader information.”

Tensions between sanctity-of-life issues and quality-of-life issues move from the realm of academic discussion or public policy debates when they affect people whom an individual Christian knows and loves, said ethicist Bill Tillman.

“Perhaps it is only when we find ourselves, a family member or someone else close to us involved in the bioethical realm that we even realize these tensions or where we might be with them,” said Tillman, who holds the T.B. Maston Chair of Christian Ethics at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon School of Theology.

Patients and family members today face tough questions their parents and grandparents never had to consider one or two generations ago, in part because of a greater emphasis on patient autonomy and patients’ rights, Rosell observed.

“Medical paternalism was the rule and practice for centuries or millennia, while the consensus now is against paternalism in favor of patient autonomy,” he said.
Perhaps “the pendulum may have swung too far” in the direction of patients being called upon to make some life-and-death decisions, Rosell suggested.

“It’s not necessarily a good thing when patients and/or their families demand specific medical interventions, especially when they are not medically indicated and won’t help but might harm,” he said, citing the example of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation being used on the frail elderly or people suffering from the failure of multiple organs. “So, just because I want it does not mean it would be good for me to get it.”

Ministers often find themselves in difficult situations when seeking to provide comfort and spiritual counsel to families or individuals facing difficult medical decisions.

“Likely, conversation about suffering, pain and ‘Where is God in all this?’ will arise,” Tillman observed. “Isn’t it interesting that it takes something we would call an intellectual, theological or physical crisis before we are willing to talk about these things?

“But these are matters to which a minister can be sensitive and perhaps build a relationship which had not been possible before.”

Tillman advises seminary students to set the proper example by considering end-of-life issues personally long before a crisis occurs.

“My advice to the students I have in classes at Logsdon is that they are never too young to put a will together, to have a statement of advanced directives prepared and to be advising their friends, family members and congregants to be doing the same thing,” he said.

“One benefit is they have to think through the matters surrounding their own mortality—all of us will die. Will we leave our life circumstances in such order that someone can pick up where we leave off? Can someone speak on our behalf if we arrive in a context where we cannot? As we recognize we will not be in this life forever—and frankly do not know the circumstances or the when of our death—quite probably those considerations will cause us to think more clearly and deliberately about how we live the moments we have.”

Beginning-of-life issues raise as many questions for some Christians as end-of-life dilemmas, Gushee added.

“Reproductive technologies also have brought us a host of unanticipated consequences, such as genetic screening to sift through extra embryos, ‘octomoms’ for those who feel compelled to implant all the conceived embryos, half a million frozen embryos and the ethical issues these raise, including a steady call for their exploitation in research, custody disputes over frozen embryos, and on it goes,” he said.

While the Religious Right has been most vocal about some of these issues, concern transcends political agendas, he added.

“I hear among my students at McAfee, who are not driven by a conservative political ideology, a kind of healthy sense of caution and sobriety about this endless fiddling with the procreative process,” Gushee said. “One may say it may be that the scientific and technological pride of the 1960s and 1970s is giving way to a more cautious appreciation of the dangers and limits of our interventions in nature.”

Caution and humility likewise should characterize the counsel Christians offer to families who are coping with end-of-life, quality-of-life and beginning-of-life issues, Tillman noted.

“Presence—caring presence—can be priceless,” he said. “I’d say stay away from interpretive generalities. Praying that God’s will be done—and not outlining to the patient and to God what that will is—is always appropriate.”

2012-12-03T15:52:07+00:00December 3rd, 2012|Multiple Sclerosis, Patient Stories|

Stem cell treatments for multiple sclerosis: CBS News 4 report on Jennifer Blankenship

News of the stem cell bill signing was received with joy by a Lakewood woman who says the research has already improved her life. CBS force Terry Jessup goes in depth this evening with how the research in other countries is helping people in Colorado. Coloradans are hopeful for the future.

“…I see normally, and can move both legs straight out, and I can still do this (raises her hand). I couldn’t move this hand before, so, that’s remarkable.”

Jennifer Blankenship has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis since 1984, after years of no relief from pills and alternative medicines.

Blankenship: “I have done every drug on the market for MS.”

She traveled to Costa Rica to receive stem cell spinal injections.

Blankenship: “When I got back, I could move parts of my body, talk normally, I see normally, and can move both legs straight out, and I can still do this (raises her hand). I couldn’t move this hand before, so, that’s remarkable.”

And when she heard the news the President has now reversed limits on using money for embryonic stem cell research…

Blankenship: “So this will absolutely be a miracle for so many people….And it only works for a couple of years. But a couple of years for me is a lifetime.”

White: “It offers really new hope and exciting opportunities.”

Terry White is President of Bridge Health international, a local company that arranged Jennifer’s trip.

White: “We have seen patients within a short time after treatment, who had paralysis from a stroke, being able to grab something with that paralyzed hand and actually throw a ball so their dog can chase it.”

White concedes the stem cell treatments are expensive, normally running in other countries from twenty thousand up to sixty thousand dollars. Today’s Bill signing, he says, could change that, as more money becomes available for research. The question for people like Jennifer Blankenship is how soon the treatment she receives right now by the Institute for Cellular Medicine could become available her in the United States. That’s a question that’s tough to answer.

Blankenship: “It will probably be, hopefully in my lifetime.”

In Lakewood, Terry Jessup, CBS 4 News.

Stem cell treatments for multiple sclerosis: NEWS 8 report by Janet St. James

For Thousands of people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, a plane trip may be more effective than a trip to their doctor’s office. There is a new treatment oversees that is getting some amazing results, but it is not yet allowed in the United States. Here is a look at what the patients are up against. MS is a disease of the CNS. It damages the protective insulation around the nerves and also damages the nerves themselves. That leads to a kind of short circuit causing a loss of bodily function. Channel 8 Janet St. James shows us why some MS patients are taking their treatment abroad.

James: Thirty three year old Angie Adcox went to Costa Rica in September not for the lush scenery, but for the life altering shots of stem cells. A risky and controversial treatment she says she had to take when American medicines failed her.

What she does know is she can wear high heels and stand up without help for the first time in years. Janet St. James, Channel 8 News.

Angie Adcox: “I want to go try this, if not who is to say where I am going to be in another six months. I might be in a home somewhere.”

James: Adcox had joined a growing number of North Texans spreading the word about stem cell injections for Multiple Sclerosis.

Leader of support group: “How many of you have been to Costa Rica at this point?”: Majority of audience raise their hands

James: Most in this support group have seen improvements in pain, balance, vision, clear thinking, and other unseen signs of MS. Five months ago, Joey Quinn was in a wheelchair.

Joey Quinn: “After the third shot that I had with the stem cells, I took my cane away. I got rid of that. I didn’t need it no more.”

James: We asked several specialists to talk to us about this stem cell treatment. They all refused, saying its unproven, potentially dangerous and could give patients false hope. The MS society warns against it, but a small study recently published in the journal Lancet shows stem cells helped 17 out of 21 patients. Julie Balley does not know precise details of the treatment she got four months ago. What she does know is she can wear high heels and stand up without help for the first time in years. Janet St. James, Channel 8 News.