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Stem Cell Treatments for Heart Disease: Daniel Wills

“I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse in October of 2005. Dr Tonkovic of Midwest Heart Specialists in Hoffman Estates Illinois informed me i needed surgery to repair the valve immediately. He said that he felt without surgery I would die within six months. I had the surgery. Dr. Timothy James at Sherman Hospital in Elgin Illinois did the surgery. In February 2006, after being diagnosed with heart failure, I had a bi-ventricular pacemaker/defibrillator placed.

Eating right, resistance training, and running was a daily part of my life prior to my diagnosis. It was noted that I probably did not notice the heart failure symptoms because I was in such good physical condition. This probably led to the advanced condition.

The ejection fraction (EF) is the measure of the left ventricles pumping strength, it’s the percentage of blood pumped out of the left ventricle on each beat. Normal EF is between 50% and 70%. An echo in January 2009 showed an EF of 30%. An echo in January 2010 showed an EF of 20%. The echo’s note “severely reduced left ventricular systolic function…”

“I was hoping to improve my EF to somewhere in the 30% range, it seemed to be a comfort zone for me. To hear that my EF had improved to 40% was far above my expectations.”

I am under the care of Dr. Heroux at Loyola Medical near Chicago Illinois. My feelings were, at that point that things were slowly, or not so slowly, getting to a point where I really needed to do something other than “manage” my heart failure. So now what? What do I do? My mother had come across an article in the Houston newspaper about heart issues and stem cells. So I started researching and found ICM, Cell Medicine/The Stem Cell Institute, and decided to “take a chance”. I had a great deal of support from family and friends, without whom this would not have happened. This chance that I chose to take was stem cell therapy.

In April 2010 I went to ICM in Costa Rica and found everything there exceeded my expectations. They met us at the airport, they ensured our accommodations were taken care of, they had a driver for us every day. They were incredibly professional. The facilities were better than expected; we went on a very impressive tour of the lab. Marcela Potts was in charge and she handled everything for us, without flaw. I could go on and on. I had five days of stem cell treatments from April 26th through April 30th. The staff and medical personnel were terrific. They really were professional and to me they easily met any expected standards.

I had an appointment with Dr. Heroux on July 12th, ten weeks after my stem cell therapy, and he asked me to get an echo that day. It seemed a bit unusual, but he has my trust. They called a few hours later and told me my echo had been read and that the EF was now at 40%, “a big improvement”. It’s not easy to measure the improvement when it comes to heart failure from a personal standpoint. Reading it through an echo is one thing but to determine change can’t really be measured like a thermometer, you can’t read the temperature on the scale. After only ten weeks I am reluctant to make any real claims to improvement, but I do have to admit I am feeling better overall. I have far less bouts of tiredness. I can go all day without serious palpitations the rest of the night.

I was really hoping that the stem cells would take and that it would be enough to improve my condition some. I was hoping to improve my EF to somewhere in the 30% range, it seemed to be a comfort zone for me. To hear that my EF had improved to 40% was far above my expectations. It has only been ten weeks so we have a long way to go before a real determination is made. So far so very good!”


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