Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"NHS Didn't Pay For It- Why? Because it works?"

That was our friend Don Margolis' response to the amazing adult stem-cell treatment that more or less rebuilt the leg of 53 year-old Englishman Andrew Kent.

What with one thing and another, we have neglected Don's blog of late, which is always a mistake. Because although we say "amazing" the treatments with adult-stem cells have quickly redefined the word.

From the story:

"A man's own stem cells have saved his crushed leg from amputation in England. Andrew Kent, 53, of Kent has had his leg saved by adult stem cells after a huge boulder landed on it, shattering his bones in his leg.

After the accident, Andrew had 3 surgeries on his leg attempting to save it. None of them worked. His doctors told Andrew that he was facing amputation.

Surgeons told Mr Kent he could lose his leg unless they tried the new stem cell technique.

He said: “I was given two choices. I asked what the surgeon thought was best and he said he wanted to try the stem cells. I was the first in the country at that time.”

Orthopaedic surgeon Anan Shetty removed stem cells from bone marrow in Mr Kent’s hip. These were mixed with a new collagen gel called Cartifill to make a paste, which was smeared into the fractures.

They finally fixed his leg in a metal cage to gently press the bones together. The cage was finally removed six months after the procedure.

Mr Shetty said: “He’s really surprised us. This is an amazing technique. Mr Kent won’t be able to run for about a year, but after 18 months his bones will have healed completely. I’m sure he’ll be able to go back to rock climbing.”

Cartifill was invented by an orthopaedic surgeon from South Korea, Professor Seok Jung Kim, who has helped Mr Shetty pioneer a series of procedures. Prof Kim was present to watch the operation.

Cartifill has also been used in combination with stem cells to repair torn knee cartilage. The gel holds the stem cells against the bone, where they form a new layer of cartilage. Ten patients have been treated so far in Britain, with an 80 per cent success rate.

Cost is always a factor in medicine, but this technique only costs a few hundred pounds.
Prof Kim said: “Many people who have problems with knee injuries can now get effective, low-cost treatment.”

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