Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Stem cells help baby's vision

I don't believe we should be killing babies just to harvest stem cells. That's what some researchers want to do in America. Kill babies so adults can have life (not a good trade).

But there's also a way to get stem cells without hurting the embryo. Such was the case with this young baby who was born blind. Apparently, the mother saved the umbilical cord (they do offer this service at most hospitals). They were able to transfer the stem cells and infuse it directly into baby Cameron. His vision is now improving.

From Sun Herald

Stem-cell treatments already producing changes in Port Charlotte toddler, who is legally blind

Cameron Petersen can't sit still.

The 19-month-old Port Charlotte toddler crawls toward objects with a new sense of curiosity. His legal blindness seems to be fading with each day in China, as he explores the foreign surroundings of the room.

"My son says he's like a little monkey," said Cameron's grandmother, Carol Petersen, who has been communicating with the family by phone.

Earlier this month, Cameron traveled to China with his parents, Melissa VanGorp and Zachery Petersen, as part of a case study to treat his blindness with stem cells.

Cameron was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia, a leading cause of blindness in children. The condition causes underdevelopment of the optic nerve and can lead to permanent blindness.

Doctors told Cameron's parents nothing could be done.

But the family never gave up hope.

They found Stem Cells China, a research facility which has successfully infused stem cells into patients suffering from numerous disabilities and diseases.

Family members raised about $20,000 this summer to help fund the trip to China and for the treatment.

The procedure, which isn't available in America, transplanted harvested umbilical cord stem cells into Cameron.

Stem cells can transform into specialized cells with specific functions, such as repair of Cameron's optic nerves.

Treatment consisted of four total stem-cell infusions to Cameron's arm and the lumbar region of his spine. It didn't take long to notice a change.

Carol Petersen said Cameron's energy level increased following his first treatment on Aug. 10. He also seemed healthier.

Petersen said Cameron used to have a high temperature every other day.

By the third treatment, Cameron was standing on his own and crawling toward objects -- something he couldn't do before. In the past, Cameron would feel objects such as his toys by putting them against his lips and face.

"He's exploring everything," Petersen said. "I am just so overjoyed."

Cameron is one of five children to undergo stem-cell treatment for optic nerve hypoplasia. Among those treated by Stem Cells China were a child from Missouri this summer, along with a girl from Romania. Both have shown incredible progress with vision.

Full article here: Sunherald

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