Skip to comments.Stem-cell treatments raise hopes for Boy with a Brain Injury
Posted on 08/04/2007 9:00:00 PM PDT by Coleus
AMERICAN FORK Many travelers to foreign countries have goals to see new sights and try exotic foods. Travis Ashton Travis Ashton's goal was a bit loftier to receive stem-cell treatments at a hospital in China to help recover from a brain injury he suffered in a car accident seven years ago. Travis, 18, and his parents traveled to Hangzhou, China, in June for a five-week stay at the Beike Biotechnology Clinic where Travis was to receive four stem-cell treatments. He received six. "We had planned on four, and he ended up having two more," said Missy Ashton, Travis' mother. "The theory behind that is the more stem cells there are, the more that can develop."
Travis had all but one treatment through spinal injections. The last one was administered intravenously. "They like to do one in your bloodstream," Missy Ashton said. She said the adult stem cells are harvested from umbilical cords and there were 10 million stem cells in each treatment. She was counseled that much of the progress a patient sees comes within six months of having treatments.
The signs of progress might seem small to those not close to Travis' situation, but his mother said he can do things now he couldn't before. "He started to have feeling in the back of his tongue," she said. "He has more control over his saliva. He drools, but that has decreased 75 percent." She also said Travis can drink water now, something he had been unable to do since his accident. He can open and close his eyes without using his hand to manipulate the eyelids, and his hearing has also greatly improved. "Once you build connections between nerves and the brain, you can build on that," Missy Ashton said. "Then it's about building muscles."
Travis' father, Jed Ashton, returned after one week to care for the family's other children. He is happy for the changes but isn't sure where the progress comes from. "I can see some subtle differences," he said. "They could be from the physical therapy or the stem cells. I'd like to think the stem cells had some positive effects I just couldn't say for sure."
Travis' care while at the hospital included more than just stem-cell treatments. "They did speech therapy, massage therapy, physical therapy and acupuncture," Jed Ashton said. He added that Travis was scheduled for therapy all day long, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. some days, and that kind of rigor can't be duplicated here because of time, family and money.
The $50,000 price tag for the trip, a good portion gathered through local fund-raisers, paid for Travis' treatments as well as airfare and food. Asked if Travis would return for more treatments, his mother said she's not over the jet lag of this trip but would consider it. "If it's helpful to Travis, I can't see that anything would stop us," she said. The good thing about returning to the clinic is that the cost of his treatments will never rise. "The prices go up every quarter," Missy Ashton said. "But once you've been, you are locked in at that price."
The clinic in Hangzhou is Chinese-run, but the lab is run by Americans with many American doctors and researchers on site. She said the hospital had to open a second floor because so many people were there for the injections. Missy Ashton thinks stem-cell treatments will be available in the United States, not in her lifetime, but perhaps for her grandchildren. "I think that in the next 50 years or so there will be more done more funding, more research," she said. "But it won't be available to this generation." She said many people assume nothing is currently being done in this country. "There's a misconception that the U.S. isn't doing anything, but they are, and President Bush is, too," she said. "It shouldn't be a political issue. It should just be common sense with some guidelines because there are ethical issues involved." The measures of progress Travis gained from his treatments mean a lot to him and his family. "In the rehab world, these are huge things," his mother said.
Waaaaaaait a minute. There are plenty of hospitals in the U.S. that perform ADULT stem cell treatments.
Sounds to me like somebody has an agenda to advance here.
Notice how the writer here is VERY careful to not draw any distinctions between the various type of stem cells. They very carefully only refer to them as “Stem Cells”. Pretty much standard operating procedure of the the political Left in the Stem Cell debate. The continually ofuscate between the various types of stem cells.
I smell another “Journalists” rat here.
The article does say adult stem cells from umbilical cords. Since it’s China, I’m still wondering if the umbilical cords came from delivered babies or aborted babies.
Travis had all but one treatment through spinal injections. The last one was administered intravenously. “They like to do one in your bloodstream,” Missy Ashton said. She said the adult stem cells are harvested from umbilical cords and there were 10 million stem cells in each treatment. She was counseled that much of the progress a patient sees comes within six months of having treatments>>>>
sorry, I usually try to bold letter “adult stem cells” when it appears in the article. And, I see your point as many reporters do not tout “adult” stem cell successes and just say “stem cells” in their articles. Mrs. VS brings up a good point, in China you never know from where they get the stem cells, there are just so many abortions, baby killing and organ harvesting going on in China, only God knows what’s going on.
Last week I saw a documentary on HBO - Coma and I highly recommend it.
I found it overall a very balanced and rather hope-filled but very realistic examination of what severely brain-damaged patients and their families and care givers go through. It followed four patients over the course of a year at the Center for Head Injuries at the JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ. Out of the four patients, one died from complications of his internal and brain injuries, one remained after a year, in a persistent vegetative state with no meaningful signs of improvement but his family chose to continued therapy for him, one young woman went home and eventually attended college classes and one, a young man left deaf because of his brain injury but eventually very cognitive and verbal, after a time in an assisted living home, bought an apartment and married his fiancé who stood by him despite his disabilities.
Contrary to movies and soap operas, coma patients dont just wake up one day completely normal. Its often a very slow and painful process and almost all are left with serious mental and physical deficits and disabilities, but many do recover to live a quality life but its almost never the life they had before.
It also shed some light on the difference between patients who remain in a persistent vegetative state after a year and those who are minimally conscience and the subtle and fine line in between those two states. As this documentary showed, sometimes family and even some doctors, see subtitle signs of what they think are improvement when no real improvement actually exists.
After a year those who are in a truly persistent vegetative state dont ever really improve or come out of that state. While rare, patients in a minimally conscience state after many years can improve. If after seven years, this young man has shown no signs of cognitive abilities or communication, hes probably in a persistent vegetative state.
I would not trust the Chinese Government with regard to stem cell therapy. I think of all those aborted unwanted girl babies and all the unethical behavior of the Chi-Coms with regard to food and other products in recent months.
If I or a loved one had a severe brain injury I wouldnt trust the Chinese for a cure.