Patient volunteers for stroke treatment using stem cells

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Valisa Blanton had a stroke just one month ago.

“My body went numb. My brain, it was on, but I couldn’t talk,” she recalls.

According to neuro-interventional surgeon Dr. George Rappard, most patients who don’t get treatment before the stroke damages brain have little to look forward to.

“There is nothing that we can do right now for somebody after they have had a stroke. All they have to look forward to is an aspirin a day and physical therapy,” he explains.

Rappard hopes by taking bone marrow from a person’s hip and extracting the stem cells inside, he’ll be able to offer more.

“We insert a catheter from the groin artery into the brain artery on the affected side of the brain and inject these five milliliters of stem cells. In animals, the chemical levels of the brain go up. The actual physical injury to the brain is reduced. Motor function to the animals has increased, and blood flow to the animals have increased significantly,” he says.

“I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be the first person that they did this on,” Valisa says.

She’s taking part in a double-blind study, meaning neither Valisa nor her doctor knows who gets the real stem cells and who does not.

She knows the study is particularly important for the African American community where the risk for stroke is so high.

Although Valisa has done very well since her stroke, her recovery may have happened with or without the treatment.

She knows her willingness to volunteer will increase the odds that many others like her may do as well, maybe even better.