Once Eric was settled at VMC, Tracy began to research stem cell trials. It turns out that Stanford and VMC are working together on stem cell trials. I talked to both but the criteria for applicants was so restrictive that Eric did not qualify. In fact, the criteria is so restrictive that our understanding is only two people in the US has qualified this year, which is very frustrating. So during Eric’s free time, more so once he returned home, he began researching everything on the web regarding spinal cord injury stem cell injections.
He found several personal blogs regarding people’s experience travelling to an India stem cell clinic. There were very exciting cases of people with spinal cord injury regaining some level of functionality. There were also others with no response to the treatments. We decided that we should consider applying and Eric submitted an inquiry to the India clinic. More research turned up details on an impressive clinic in China and examples of countries all around the world performing successful stem cell injections addressing multiple medical conditions. The downside seems to be the unknown regarding risk factors. There were lots of forums expressing concern regarding possible risks, but nothing substantiated by data.
More recently we discovered the Stem Cell Institute http://www.cellmedicine.com. Their current clinic is in Panama City; in previous years the clinic was in Costa Rica. They work in conjunction with US Universities. We were very intrigued by one of their patients, Trish Stressman http://tstressman.blogspot.com, who was injured in an ATV accident with injuries similar injuries to Eric’s. She has successfully regained some functionality after her treatments at the Stem Cell Institute. Eric also talked to her over the phone about her experiences. We decided that the Stem Cell Institute appeared to be a better fit than India. Eric submitted an application, was accepted, and suddenly, just like that, Eric was scheduled to go to the Panama City clinic for the month of June. This was very exciting and scary.
Why did we make this decision? Well, while there are a lot of unknowns, there are many cases of success. And we heard many times that the closer the treatment occurs to the time of injury, the better the chance of success. The US is way behind the rest of the world in pursuing clinical trials and treatments. So if we waited until the US was ready, Eric may never have the opportunity to obtain treatments.