Stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis: Preston Walker

MS Stem Cell Patient Preston Walker
Preston Walker

A Different Approach

Sergeant Preston Walker
Courtesy Sergeant Preston Walker

After undergoing conventional therapy for MS for several years, Fort Worth police sergeant Preston Walker learned about a new therapy for autoimmune disorders. Researchers were utilizing adult stem cells derived from cord blood at The Institute of Cellular Medicine in Costa Rica. Walker inquired about the potential of using stem cells for multiple sclerosis.

“We knew that if the treatment worked, the potential benefits for multiple sclerosis patients could be limitless,” says Walker.

Dr. Neil Riordan, CEO of the Institute, suggested a therapy under consideration – using stem cells derived from a patient’s fat tissue. In May 2008, Walker flew to the clinic where doctors removed samples of his abdominal fat through a mini-liposuction, drawing out stem cells, which were later re-injected. According to Dr. Riordan, Walker and a colleague were the first to undergo this treatment protocol. “My quality of life has improved significantly,” Walker told the Post. “The problems with depression, fatigue, and balance have been corrected. I feel really good.”

In June 2009, Walker, who continues to take Avonex as a maintenance drug, plans a return trip to Costa Rica for a “tune-up,” as he puts it. “I’m curious to see if they can further improve my cognitive abilities.”

Fox 4 News: A Fort Worth police officer has returned from Central America after having a cutting edge medical procedure to help cure his multiple sclerosis. Last year we told you about Sergeant Preston Walker tonight Larry Barriger updates us on how he is feeling following his stem cell transplant.

Sergeant Preston Walker has always been active. With a demanding job at the Fort Worth Police Department, a wife, and young children, he doesn’t have time to slow down. But about 8 years ago he didn’t have a choice. MS started taking a toll making him limp when he walked, fatigue easily, even everyday conversation was a chore.

“I can sit here and talk but trying to come up with actual words to say and really construct a sentence that people would understand was sometimes very difficult.”

Medicine helped keep the disease in remission but Preston wanted more. A chance for a cure.

“I wasn’t prepared to just let it stay in remission without me trying to do something, especially if there is an option out there to address it.”

Sergeant Walker was initially planning to have his treatment done in China but he says the political situation seemed unstable, so he started looking online. He found another center that was doing adult stem cell treatment in Central America.

The procedure, a stem cell transplant was expensive but last October police officers from Fort Worth and Dallas teamed up to help raise money for the trip and the treatment. Last March Preston and fellow MS patient Richard Humphries flew to the Institute for Cellular Medicine, both underwent a stem cell transplant, a cutting edge medical procedure not approved in the US. Both took a risk on such a new treatment, both said they have seen marked improvement.

“I haven’t felt this good in 10 years. I don’t have any of the fatigue issues, all of the cognitive lack of clarity, that cloud has been lifted.”

Walker says doctors at the Institute will be keeping up with him and Richard over the coming months and years to determine how successful the treatment was. He is hoping his improvements last and that the research leads to a cure for his and other’s multiple sclerosis.

It seems like a pretty simple task for a police officer just sitting and working on a computer. Just a couple of years ago, multiple sclerosis made that almost impossible for Fortworth Police Officer Preston Walker. New at 6 CBS 11’s Joe Thomas says Walker credits friends for recovery some feel is a miracle.

A year ago Preston Walker did not think he’d still be in uniform. Walker found out he has multiple sclerosis. He suffered chronic fatigue and began losing use of his legs.

I felt like my cognition was really declining at a rapid pace. I really felt if I made it through the end of the year, last year, I probably wouldn’t be employed any longer because the cognition just wasn’t there.

His fellow police officers held a hockey-game fundraiser to help him afford a revolutionary treatment. Walker and another MS patient, Richard Humphreys, went to Costa Rica. For the first time ever, doctors took samples of their fat, drew stem cells from it, and reinjected it. Their symptoms nearly vanished.

I’ll suffer from any of those symptoms that we talked about, the depression, the fatigue, the little cognitive cloud. I mean it’ll still hit occasionally, but its no where near every day or every moment of every day like it was.

If we or somebody doesn’t become a guinea pig, then how can that benefit others?

They led the way to a treatment that is now helped ease the suffering of dozens of others. Joel Thomas, CBS 11 News.

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