Local doctors break ground with stem cells
MIAMI (WSVN) --Groundbreaking medical research made right here in South Florida is providing life-saving heart help for patients. Doctors have found a way to repair damaged hearts, even if the damage was done years ago.
About 20 years ago, Peter Harrison suffered a heart attack at the age of 42. "I had a fairly severe heart attack," said Peter Harrison, "that caused quite a bit of damage to the heart."
Since then, Harrison has never felt quite the same. "Being out of breath was probably the biggest negative," he said, "and I would have chest pains. I would feel like there was 20 pounds sitting on my chest."
Now Harrison is part of a groundbreaking study at the University of Miami. "We have been exploring," said Dr. Joshua Hare, "whether or not we can repair heart damage with bone marrow-derived stem cells for about five years now."
Doctors wanted to find out if stem cells taken from a donor could help heart attack patients. "One of the big burning questions in the field," said Hare, "is whether we can use cells from a donor, rather than in a patient themselves."
Hare headed the study. "We studied patients who had heart attacks in the past that had left an area of scar tissue in their heart," he said.
They compared using both types of cells, from a donor and the patients, and what they found was remarkable. "The donor cells were as good as the cells from the patient's themselves," said Hare, "so it's a very exciting finding. We were able to remove up to 33 percent of the scar tissue, which is a very significant reduction."
Dr. Hare said this is the first time anything like this has been done. "There is nothing that substitutes for what we're doing," said Hare, "so we are fulfilling an unmet need."
Peter said, since receiving the donor stem cells, he feels better than he has in a long time. He can now take a walk without feeling winded. "I think it's the best thing to happen to me in many years," said Harrison. "Certainly to my health."
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)