Archive for October, 2022

Stem cell breakthrough at UC Davis helps babies with spina bifida defy expectations

Sunday, October 30th, 2022

Three babies have been born after receiving the world’s first spina bifida treatment, combining surgery with stem cells, at UC Davis Health.

Diagnosed before birth with a spinal defect, three babies have kicked their legs, wiggled their toes and blown away their parents and a team of researchers at UC Davis Health. While still in the womb, each child was diagnosed with spina bifida, a condition that often leaves a section of a newborn’s spinal cord exposed and unprotected by the backbone. Babies born with the defect can have intellectual and physical disabilities that range from mild to severe, depending on how big of a hole they have in their spines, where it is and the impact on the spinal cord or nerves.

In the video below, Mom, Michelle Johnson talks about the vast improvements for baby Toby already and in the link, Mom Emily talks about significant mobility improvements for baby Robbie who is now 12 months old. Baby treated with first spina bifida treatment at UC Davis | The Sacramento Bee (

For 25 years now, Dr. Diana Farmer has been working on ways to treat this prenatal defect. Right now, Farmer said, this initial stage of the clinical research is about showing that the surgery and stem cell treatment are safe. UC Davis plans to enroll 35 moms-to-be in this trial. To enroll for the trial go to

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From the U.K. to the U.S.A. With Love. A Life Saved After 3% Chance Of Survival Given

Wednesday, October 12th, 2022
Alex Christopher and Patrick Languzzi

Alex Christopher’s donation of stem cells from the U.K. saved the life of Patrick Languzzi (in Boston, U.S.A.) who was given just a 3 per cent chance of survival after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

A stem cell donor says he feels like he’s won the lottery after meeting the man whose life he saved. Alex Christopher’s donation saved the life of Patrick Languzzi who was given just a 3 per cent chance of survival.

Alex, from Chorley, Lancashire joined the stem cell register and had a bone marrow donation on a whim. He had no idea he had saved someone’s life on the other side of the world until months after Patrick’s operation.

The outlook for Patrick was bleak after he was diagnosed with a rare cancer called acute myeloid leukemia. The 56-year-old needed a bone stem cell match to have any chance of survival and then came a match from Alex in the U.K.

Alex, 35, told the Express: “Previous to this, I had never had an operation or even given blood. I first signed up after a colleague at work had blood cancer, so it inspired me.

“The risks were so small, mainly because of the advancement in medical science. It was a hassle-free process and I saved a life.”

Alex having his stem cell extraction
Alex having his stem cell extraction
Alex and Patrick meeting for the first time
Alex and Patrick meeting for the first time

Stem cell donors can choose to have their details passed on to potential recipients six months after the transplants. Alex decided he would do this and received an email from Patrick thanking him for saving his life.

The email eventually led to Patrick travelling more than 3,000 miles from his home in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. to meet up with Alex in May. Father-of-one Patrick said the first thing he did when he came face-to-face with Alex was to tell him he loved him.

“It was pretty emotional,” he said. “It was just really great to meet him.”

He continued: “I had to pinch myself because how many people have that opportunity? I survived and actually got to meet the person who helped me do that.

“We call each other brothers now and that’s what it’s like, as if we are family. I only had one match so it was unbelievable.

“When I got diagnosed, I said to my wife ‘I just want to live long enough to see our son graduate’ and luckily I did. It happened in June 2022 and it was so emotional.

“It has absolutely saved my life. My outlook was pretty bleak before the procedure.”

Alex, who is also a father after just welcoming a baby daughter, said he was prompted to donate stem cells when his boss and friend, Peter McCleave, was diagnosed with myeloma in 2018. He was not a match for Peter, but within six months he matched with Patrick.

Alex added: “I saved Patrick’s life and it was like winning the lottery but I didn’t even need to pay for a ticket. I would do it again if I could without a doubt.

“I was not aware really of stem cell donation and, even when I was, I didn’t realize how important it would be to someone’s life. It hasn’t dawned on me quite what I’ve done.

“It just seemed at the time a simple thing to do, an act that would help someone somewhere. It is difficult to gauge the impact I suppose but ultimately it can have such a massive impact on someone’s life.”

Patrick’s first email to Alex arrived in his inbox just days before Christmas. It read: “Hello, you saved my life. Thank you.”

Remembering how it felt when he read it, Alex said: “It broke me. I cried at the email and it only then started to feel real for me.

“I then was aware of the impact it had on his life. He has been able to attend his son’s graduation.

“You don’t know anything about the recipient until six months after the procedure, and only if you agree to your details being shared and vice versa. In my instance, I agreed to give my details and I was, I suppose, excited about that. I was excited but wanted to respect Patrick’s privacy too.

“Patrick was at death’s door. He was given a 3 per cent chance of survival.”

Patrick said his goal now is to help others by raising awareness of stem cell donation. He said: “It really changed my life because I’ve been given a second chance here.

“I can’t put into words how grateful I am but I wanted to give back, so to speak, since late last year and so was delighted to be able to meet Alex. We certainly will remain in touch. There’s no doubt about that.”

As published in the Wales Online.

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