Thursday, September 20, 2007
Medical Reports: All for Autism
An autistic girl from South Florida traveled to Costa Rica for what her family is calling a life-altering treatment. Since having adult stem cell therapy she's talking and interacting like other kids. Seven's Richard Lemus shows us how this is All For Autism.
WSVN -- Family videos show Patricia Cabrera as a bright-eyed happy baby, but her parents would soon watch their active baby transform into a reclusive toddler.
Valerie Cabrera: "It started with her not being able to speak. Then from there we noticed that she didn't socialize with anybody."
By age 3, doctors diagnosed Patricia with autism, and her behavior got worse and worse.
Valerie Cabrera: "She had no language. Basically, everything was a scream."
The family tried every therapy and drug available.
Valerie Cabrera: "It got to the point that we knew we had to do something when our oldest daughter came to us and said, 'Will she ever speak to me?' That's when we said we have to find something."
That something would be adult stem cell therapy. It's been used to treat other disorders, so they thought why not autism? After they couldn't find any doctors here in the U.S. to do it they found a clinic in Costa Rica, the Institute of Cellular Medicine who agreed to treat Patricia.
Valerie Cabrera: "They said, 'Listen, we've never done this, but if you guys are willing to take the chance we'll take the chance along with you.' We asked, 'What's the worst case scenario that could happen?' and they said, 'Either she's going to come back the same or she'll change, she'll get better but guarantee she won't get worse.'"
They took that chance. For four days Patricia received injections of stem cells. These are not the controversial embryonic cells but cells taken from umbilical cords or bone marrow.
Dr. Claudia Herrera: "All it is is stem cells from the body that have the potential to become any cell in the body."
Cells that are thought to help autistic children by boosting blood flow to the brain and helping with autoimmune deficiencies.
Back at home Patricia's family immediately saw a different child emerge.
Valerie Cabrera: "It's been a total, complete drastic change. One day she's saying 'milk' then the next day she's saying, 'I want milk.'"
After a second round of treatments, Patricia can now count to 50, string together sentences and went from bottom of her class to the top.
Dr. Claudia Herrera: "I noticed a tremendous change in her behavior, in her social and communication skills."
Patricia's South Florida pediatrician saw the progress firsthand. She remains hopeful but skeptical over the stem cell treatment.
Dr. Claudia Herrera: "We still have to do research. We need to make sure this is what is helping her."
Patricia's parents believe it's working. They're waiting for the day that their little girl becomes like any other girl.
Valerie Cabrera: "My hope for Patricia, she will be my normal child."
Richard lemus: "Treatments cost more than $15,000 and can be financed."
For more information:
The Institute of Cellular Medicine