Monday, January 24, 2011

Danielle Smith Stem Cell Journey

Hello!  My name is Cindy and my daughter, Danielle, was born with Spina Bifida.  She is four years old.  Due to the Spina Bifida Danielle is partially paralyzed from the waist down.  She was not able to stand or walk unassisted and does not have bladder control.  Danielle is mobile with the use of a walker.

I have done intensive research on umbilical cord blood stem cells (UCB) over the past four years.  We did save Danielle's cord blood from her birth.  Unfortunately, no one in the United States would administer her stem cells to her because it has not been done before for Spina Bifida.  When I saw the tremendous progress of children receiving UCB for CP at Duke University, I was sure that it was the answer for my daughter.  This was when Danielle was two years old.  At this same time I became aware of companies in China and Mexico offering donated UCB stem cells.  This was when we began to fund-raise.  It took a year and a half and many fundraisers with many generous people from our community to raise the funds.

We had ups and downs in our journey that can be read in detail on happydanismith.com.  In the end, we were put in touch with Dr. Lopez from the Regenerative Medicine Institute in Mexico.  After many discussions about the details, I felt comfortable proceeding with Dr. Lopez and his group.  Dr. Lopez was able to get approval from the Mexican government to use Danielle's own cord blood stem cells for Spina Bifida.  The blood bank felt that there would not be an issue with shipping the stem cells across the border and we proceeded.  The transplant liason at Cord Blood Registry also was extremely detailed in her discussions with the lab personnel at the hospital.  She felt comfortable in their knowledge of performing stem cell transplants.
www.happydanismith.com

Dr. Lopez met us upon our arrival at the hospital and helped us to get checked in.  The hospital room was very nice, nicer than the hospital rooms in which I gave birth in the states.  The room had a sitting area and cable tv.  We were then introduced to Dr. Perez, who was our liason at the hospital.  The doctors answered any questions that we had.  The next morning we met the two neurosurgeons.  All of the doctors were attentive and answered any questions.

Dani received 70% of her stem cells directly into her spinal cord and 30% through an IV.  After the procedure, I sat with her in the recovery room until she woke up.  Danielle had her temperature taken during the remainder of the day and night and had no adverse reactions to the procedure.  She was walking the halls the next day and was released.  Our experience was wonderful in dealing with Dr. Lopez and the Regerative Medicine Institute.  The doctors were very professional, the hospital was very nice, and the food was good.  It was an excellent trip from start to finish.

As to Danielle's progress:  We have been back from Mexico for 10 weeks.  At two weeks post procedure she had more feelings in her legs and feet.  At five weeks: her taste buds (which were damaged as a baby) were repaired.  Danielle can now taste food and loves it!  Her balance is improved.  At two months: she could stand for 40 seconds and started to initiate her first step.  On December 27th, she repeatedly took one step by herself.  At three months: Danielle can stand for almost a minute by herself and she can now take two steps.  We expect to see the biggest results from 3-6 months post procedure, and therefore, are very excited about the coming months.  Finally, based upon Danielle's improvements to date alone, we would absolutely have the procedure again!!

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