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Paralyzed Sisters Return from China After Adult Stem Cell Treatment

CTV, January 19, 2007

After undergoing experimental stem cell transfusions for their damaged spines, sisters Shannon, 21, and Erica, 18, have returned from China.

The two sisters now use wheelchairs after both being paralyzed in a 2004 car accident. With the hope of experiencing some relief from the pain they feel on a daily basis, they traveled to China for a month long duration of treatments that were not available in their home country of Canada.

They are hopeful that that treatment will have an effect, but they say it is still too early to tell. But there are signs that the stem cells have begun their work.

"I have noticed differences in my circulation and like, my legs and my feet are a lot warmer now, so that's a positive thing," Erica said, noting that her sister has noticed the same result.

"Hopefully, with work with our physiotherapist and stuff we'll start seeing some more improvements."

Their treatment involved the injection of millions of stem cells at the Shenzhen Nanshan People's Hospital. Herbal intravenous sessions and acupuncture were also a part of the treatment.

"I was really nervous at first but they were really simple," Erica said of the treatments.”

"They wheeled us into a room together that was about the size of a bedroom and put us out and then what they did was take out a bit of spinal cord fluid and then inject the stem cells. It only takes about 15 minutes."

See video of the sisters' treatment.

The controversial use of embryonic stem cells was avoided said the girls father Tony.

"This was an umbilical cord blood stem cell treatment so there was a lot less controversy, and it seemed to be yielding better results," said Tony.

Tony says he doesn’t regret the expense, even though the trip and treatment were costly, about $20,000 each.

"Well, there is nothing else available and they couldn't just sit by and see them gradually deteriorate day by day from bone density loss and everything else. So we did the best we could."

An intense workout schedule is scheduled to follow-up the treatment says Tony. Both daughters are eager to take on the challenge.

"We're very hopeful that within the next six months, we're going to see some more positive results."


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