Stem cells offer Stroke victim Sonia a second chance

stem cell stories

Sonia was given a second chance of life after the Department of Neurosurgery at Standford School of Medicine led by its Chairman Dr.Gray Steinberg, rescued her brain cells by infusing stem cells after an episode of stroke.

Sonia was a 32-year-old young adult, who had witnessed a sudden episode of blood clot induced (ischemic) stroke.  Six months after the episode, Sonia was feeling miserably depressed as she found even doing her day to day activities like picking up a telephone and moving around as a herculean task.

Generally, during an episode of ischemic stroke the blood supply to the vessels in the brain gets cut off by the presence of blood clots. When the blood supply is hampered, within minutes the oxygen to the brain cells is interrupted resulting in death or damage of these cells. In Sonia’s case, even doctors were not clear about the reason for the clot.

One morning, Sonia woke up, drew all the courage within and decided to fight her disabilities back. After one year of research, she found that Standford University was willing to help her with their cutting edge stem cell clinical trial. She instantly registered for the treatment; of course the decision to say “yes” was a no-brainer act for Sonia at that crucial moment.

It was a revolutionary approach of injecting bone marrow stem cells into the brain cells and required a lot of testing as a predecessor for safety. The prevalent old notion about stroke was that, 3 months after the episode, recovery will be highly limited, as the neurons and the brain circuits will be completely dead and reviving them would be impossible.

Though this theory about stroke was partially right, the idea of the scientist was to at least save the cells outside the affected area. Thus, the team of scientists collected Sonia’s bone marrow stem cells and infused them into the brain cells. The team knew that bone marrow stem cells cannot transform themselves into functional neurons, but can release molecules that can rescue the impaired neurons that are not completely dead.

Soon after the transplant, Sonia’s improvement was instantaneous. When she woke up she was able to talk, lift her feet and even raise her hand. Sonia was one of the patients who responded amazingly to the treatment. Though the study was to determine the safety of stem cells, the efficacy of the treatment was tremendous.

Sonia continued to improve and her limbs were 95% better and her arms responded around 60%, though her speech wasn’t perfect, she was at least able to verbally communicate now, as prior to the transplant even expressing herself was a laborious task.

If you want to know more about stem cell preservation and its benefits:



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