11-febr 2011 One man’s heart has been saved by his own stem cells...............“They form brand new micro blood vessels and deliver blood flow to the heart muscle." Dr. Woo said

Reported February 11, 2011

Stem Cells To The Rescue!


COLUMBUS, OH (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- For the first time in the United States, one man’s heart has been saved by his own stem cells. We went behind the scenes in the lab that saved his life and took a look at the future of stem cells repairing arteries throughout the body.

“My great grandchildren will be asked, 'who was the first president?' George Washington. Who was first stem cell recipient?'” John Christy, stem cell patient, told Ivanhoe.

Christy was the first person in the U.S. to have his own specific type of stem cells inserted during CABG surgery.

“All you’re doing is giving back to yourself something you already have.” Christy said.

This Vietnam veteran was suffering from severe coronary artery disease.

“I was just thinking, you’re getting old, tiring out and getting weary bones. I felt tingling. My legs had been swelling a little bit,” Christy explained

In one procedure, cardio-thoracic surgeon Y. Joseph Woo at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine is taking science from bench to bedside.  After five years of research in animals, he is now retrieving stem cells from Christy's bone marrow and using them to grow blood vessels around the heart.

“They form brand new micro blood vessels and deliver blood flow to the heart muscle." Dr. Woo said.

He has started the first U.S. trial where stem cells are harvested during surgery, prepped and then re-inserted back into the patients own heart. Results for Mr. Christy were seen almost immediately.

‘It happens very quickly…in a matter of days," Dr. Woo said.

“I noticed two days after surgery, I had much more comfort.” Christy said.

It’s the same process that saved 76-year-old Christina McDonald -- only it wasn’t arteries in her heart that were damaged. McDonald’s problem was in her legs.

“Sort of like a charlie horse where the muscles stiffen up.” McDonald, PAD sufferer, said.

The arteries in her leg were clogged with plaque putting her at risk for heart attack, stroke and amputation. Traditionally, doctors treat it with stents, angioplasties or bypasses. But now, they're using stem cells.

“We basically take stem cells from their hips to help grow blood vessels,” Randall Franz, M.D, FACS, RVT, Vascular Surgeon at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, OH said.

“We put the bone marrow simply inside here. When we put it all in, it was just all red, so now we have plasma, buffy coat and stem cells,” Tom Hankins, Chief Perfusionist at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, OH added.

Then these doctors in Ohio injected the stem cells into her arteries and muscles in the leg.

“It creates new, smaller blood vessels that give blood supply to the limb," Franz explained.

In one study, six out of nine patients who received the stem cell treatment avoided major amputation.

It worked for Christina. Three months later, her pain is gone. The same goes for John. His only wish, that science was working faster. He lost his wife to heart disease one year ago.

“I wish she could have had this.” Christy concluded.

A similar procedure is being done in Europe. The difference is Dr. Woo does his in one short surgery. In Europe, it takes at least two procedures --weeks apart. In Europe, they retrieve the stem cells while the patient is awake, which can be painful. Dr. Woo says any patient who is a candidate for coronary bypass surgery is a good candidate for his stem cell transplant. MORE