The Future is Now
When faced with a major health issue of a certain gravity, the idea of using stem cells to heal becomes the go-to recommendation of well-meaning laypeople. Considering what they are, stem cells for ALS are the most beautiful thing in the world. Now, how do we get the United States to realize the same?
Back in 2001, President George W. Bush ensured no government funding (Think: National Institute of Health, Center for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, to name a few) would go towards any research where new embryonic stem cells were needed. Only existing cells would be allowed for new research. He made this decision based on his faith.
Why bother getting wrapped up in all those messy things like facts that scientists blather about? Scientists were well on their way to finding cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other nasty diseases. Fortunately for the humans living in this country, President Barack Obama lifted this ban in 2009.
What Are We Really Talking About?
I wasn’t after the cells from prom night dumpster babies, I wanted the stem cells from the umbilical cord and placenta. Afterall, they were getting tossed out. The FDA feels otherwise. Stem cells collected from either of these two sources are only to be used for treating certain blood disorders like leukemias, lymphomas and sickle cell disease, along with other cancers.
Stem cells from either of these places, not intended for the purposes above, are considered by the FDA to be an experimental drug. All the usual hurdles that go along with the designation apply. Applying for licenses, endless inspections from FDA inspectors and enough money to run clinical trials are all required to bring a treatment to the market.
What could go wrong? The changing whims of a president, people dropping dead in the clinical trials, or maybe something more in line with the growing trend of the CEO touching employees in the no-no place. Small research teams aren’t going through this effort.
All the reasons why I spent my money overseas as a medical tourist. Here’s to hoping someone knows how to use stem cells to treat ALS.
After researching nearly twenty different clinics claiming to offer stem cell treatments of one kind or another, there are many scam artists purporting to cure the world’s diseases with quick injections of everything from your own fat cells to cells from sheep fetuses. I chose the aptly named Stem Cells Transplant Institute in Costa Rica.
The four-day treatment plan included 500 million mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) injected intrathecally (in the spinal column via a lumbar puncture), and intramuscularly to all the areas of atrophy throughout my body.
While not up to the standards of cleanliness and sterility we in North America expect, it was sufficient. Each day was a deluge of injections, leaving me feeling like a human pin cushion.
After being home for not more than two weeks, my hands and legs are stronger, and I have more stability when standing. The greatest benefits coming between two and three months after the treatments.
I plan to return for another round considering the positive results.
Have you gone to another country for medical treatment? What was it for and what was your experience? Tell me in the comments below.