Quality of life? – Priceless.
For an Oliver couple, Ray and Patricia (Tish) Tessier, both 78 years old, spending their remaining years suffering was simply not an option — forget the cost.
Tish had nerve damage to the top of her feet keeping her awake at night, something that could only be helped by pain medication.
Ray, who is diabetic and had a heart attack in 1988, wore out his ankles and right hip afterwards while exercising to strengthen his heart and lungs.
He also had COPD from smoking for many years resulting in failing lung function and the need for inhalers to help him breathe.
“As most aging elders we have some issues with pain and parts wearing out but you just deal with the pain.” said Tessier, a retired 30-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “I mean give up and jump off a bridge? That’s not what we were going to do but if you look at it, at our age we’ve got 10 years left, maybe, and you don’t want to live in a bed.”
So when they heard about a stem cell therapy seminar in Penticton last year, put on by Regenerative Medicine and Anti-Aging Institute in the United States, they decided to attend.
Liking what they heard, they then decided to go for a medical assessment appointment in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.
From there they were given their treatment options including stem cell administration alternatives including injection, intravenous and nebulizer (inhaling vapours).
They were also told the price, $33,500, with no guarantee the treatment would work, only that they would get half of the money back if it didn’t.
“That is quite a bit,” said Tessier, adding it would substantially deplete their savings accounts in either case. “You can imagine the shock when we were told what it would cost before we agreed to accept the procedures.”
But it was something they decided to try.
“We took a chance, a big chance on a young idea and we’re down there looking at 30 grand but we rolled the dice and away we went and it turned out good,” said Tessier.
It was the morning after their treatment last September he was in touch with Darryl Brewer, 79, of Keremeos who attended the same seminar and had similar stem cell therapy also in Idaho for his back, the success of which he described as life changing.
According to Tessier, his wife noticed considerable changes after just three days, his results were gradual, some days receding the next day progressing.
Now on a scale of zero to 10 (10 being new feet) fish has gone from three to eight and no longer needs pain medication to sleep.
For Ray, with his ankles, previously registering two to three on the scale, he now rates them a glorious seven.
“Before the treatment I had difficulty walking further than a hundred yards. The cartilage was worn out and going up stairs was difficult because there was no flexibility,” he said. “Now I can walk from the car and throughout the Wal-Mart store without any pain. But more important I can go up and down stairs without holding on to the railing to prevent falling because my ankles are considerably more flexible.”
He added about his COPD condition: “Improvement was the hardest to measure at first. Because I do not run marathons or jump over buildings it was much harder to assess on a daily basis.”
His latest respiratory test just before Christmas his air intake and ability to completely expel showed improvement from seven years ago.
“I still can’t run marathons but considering, the degradation could not be prevented, stem cell therapy moved the yard sticks to better than it was seven years ago,” said Tessier. “I consider it remarkable.”
In telling their story he says they have nothing personally to gain except the satisfaction that maybe somebody else will get to enjoy that priceless quality of life he and Tish do now.
To that end he would be happy to talk to anybody who would like to know about the couples’ experience or has any questions.
Ray can be reached by email at email@example.com or telephone, 250 498-9422.
Regenerative medicine or stem cell therapy has been a controversial issue but more and more it is moving into mainstream medicine and is already being used in many Canadian hospitals.
The treatment is used in a variety of applications ranging from everything from back pain to brain injuries to helping cancer patients and treatment of many diseases.
The Mayo Clinic describes stem cells as the body’s raw materials, cells from which other cells with specialized functions are generated.
The most common way to harvest stem cells involves taking blood from the body, separating the stem cells through a machine like a centrifuge and re-injecting them back into the body.
Using a person’s own stem cells usually eliminates rejection by the body.
The cells can also be found in fat and some other organs and tissues or from the blood in the umbilical cord when a baby is born or from the amniotic fluid which surrounds an unborn baby which are found to create a wider range of tissues.
A Vancouver company, Healthcord, currently offers a cord blood and tissue banking service for prospective parents and serves over 450 hospitals in the country.
The cells are harvested and frozen and can be stored for the life of the child and there is also a chance they will match other family members.
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