Nashville, TN (PressExposure) September 20, 2009 -- Cerebral palsy (CP) comes as the result of brain damage. Either the brain did not develop properly during gestation or the child suffers neurological brain damage from infection (such as meningitis), bleeding into the brain, or damage caused by a lack of oxygen during delivery. Unfortunately, medical mistakes are responsible for thousands and thousands of cerebral palsy cases.
Cerebral palsy is not usually detected in early infancy, but symptoms become obvious as the child's nervous system matures. The child may not have the motor skills typically obtained by others in his age group. For example, he may not be able to reach with one hand, control his head, roll over, sit without support, crawl, walk, or potty train at the normal age. Depending upon the severity of the brain damage, disabilities related to cerebral palsy range from very mild to very severe. CP victims may have stiff joints or spastic (uncontrolled) muscles. Limbs may be "floppy" or held in awkward positions. Some children with cerebral palsy may experience hearing and vision loss, mental retardation, seizures, speech problems, and difficulty swallowing and controlling bladder and bowels.
Birsen Akturk, a 15-year-old patient diagnosed with cerebral palsy, received her first placenta stem cell treatment at the International Stem Cell Institute (ISCI) clinic in Mexico on August 5, 2009. Prior to treatment, Birsen was nearly blind. Even with glasses, she had to put her nose right up to the computer screen to see the words. Three days after her treatment, she was listening as her computer program audibly read the words on the screen. Suddenly, Birsen started crying and screaming. Her mother thought something was wrong, but when she got her daughter to settle down enough to speak, Birsen said, "I've never been able to see so clearly! I can see the words on the screen without my glasses!"
Nine years ago, Mrs. Akturk was nearly hysterical with worry over her young daughter with CP when she phoned Dr. Evan Snyder, who is now a professor and the director of the stem cells and regeneration program at the Burnham Institute in La Jolla, California. He told her then that the research was about eight years away from being able to help Birsen. Mrs. Akturk has been on the computer every day since, seeking new treatments for her daughter. Two years ago, she took Birsen to a clinic in Costa Rica to have cord blood stem cells injected into her spine. The treatment did nothing to help Birsen's condition; and in fact, made her sick when her body rejected a less-than-perfect match of donor cells. Five weeks after the placenta stem cell treatment at ISCI, Birsen has gained better control of her motor coordination. Before the treatment, her knees would not support her when she tried to use her walker. After one treatment, her back is straight and she is able to use the walker to move around in a much more fluid motion. Before, her eyelids remained half closed, but now, her eyes stay open longer and she has use of the muscles that control the up and down motion of her eyes.
"In three or four more weeks, we hope for even more improvement," says Mrs. Akturk, who plans to take her daughter back to the ISCI clinic every six months for further treatment. "Many families are looking to improve the quality of life for their children. I wish I could gather up all of the children with CP and bring them to the ISCI clinic for treatment. Everything there was clean and we were very happy with the entire procedure."
"The doctor was phenomenal," says Birsen. "He has a sense of humor that put me at ease, and he explained everything so I wouldn't be afraid." The treatment Birsen received at ISCI uses non-controversial cells that came from the placenta of a healthy newborn baby. The placenta is an organ surrounding a developing fetus. Connected to the Mother's uterine wall, the placenta transfers oxygen and food to the fetus, and sends fetal waste to the mother's system to be disposed of through her kidneys. The placenta has a large number of stem cells that can be collected and preserved for medical treatment. However, the placenta is typically discarded once a baby is born in the U.S.
A doctor in Mexico learned many years ago that the placenta is not medical waste. It contains a significant amount of pluripotent CD34+ stem cells that, like embryonic stem cells, are able to differentiate into numerous types of cells. The ISCI clinic in Mexico has been using placenta for the past 18 years to treat stroke, cancer, skin conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, immune deficiency, kidney disorders, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, spina bifida, and even cerebral palsy. The physician administering the stem cell treatments trained in Europe where placental treatments have been done for over 25 years. The cost of a placenta treatment through ISCI is $9,950.