Monday, December 15, 2008
Medical Reports: Stem Cell
There are some types of childhood leukemia where chemotherapy and radiation don't work. These cancers are often fatal, even with aggressive treatment. As Seven's Christine Cruz shows us, area doctors are turning to experimental stem cell therapies to give kids a Fighting Chance.
WSVN -- Adolfo Gonzalez will never forget the day his 2-year-old son was born.
Adolfo Gonzalez: "It was incredible, best feeling ever."
But the excitement turned to devastation one year later when a doctor diagnosed little Adolfo with a rare form of leukemia called JMMI.
Adolfo Gonzalez: "He said with or without treatment your son will not survive."
Instead of giving up, the family found doctor Gary Kleiner.
Dr. Gary Kleiner: "Most of the cases are fatal by the time the child is three years old."
Doctor Kleiner enrolled Adolfo in a trial at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine testing umbilical cord blood transfusions. The new blood helps replenish the patient's white blood cell count.
Gary Kleiner: "The stem cells from the cord blood started to grow in his own bone marrow, and his white count started to increase back to normal."
The new blood created by the stem cells replaced all of Adolfo's blood and eliminated the leukemia cells in his body.
Gary Kleiner: "Once 100 percent of your blood is converted over to the cord blood, it's rare to see a relapse of leukemia."
But Adolfo's troubles weren't over. His new cells began to attack his body. Standard drugs didn't help, so doctors turned to stem cells once again.
As part of another experimental treatment, Adolfo received eight infusions of adult stem cells to stop the destruction. It worked. Today there's no evidence of cancer in his body.
Adolfo Gonzalez: "My son's a miracle."
Adolfo may not remember the tough first years of his life, and that's OK by dad.
Adolfo Gonzalez: "He's going to be a great little boy. He's going to be just a normal little kid."
The cord blood for Adolfo's transfusion came from a public cord blood bank. Parents can choose to donate their babies cord blood shortly after birth.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Omar Montejo, Director of Media Relations