When Pat Wilkinson was fitted with a pacemaker, he was told he had a 50% chance of being alive in five year’s time. The 80 years old retiree had suffered from heart failure and required a pacemaker to keep his heartbeat regular. Fast forward 15-years and Pat is still alive, thanks to an amazing stem cell transplant procedure that she received last year.
Stem cells are the building blocks of the body. They are capable of differentiating into other types of cells including skin cells, nerve cells, and heart cells. The body uses stem cells to grow new tissue and repair damage to the body.
The procedure that Pat received involved her bone marrow cells being extracted before being processed in a laboratory. They were then transplanted back into Pat to encourage the heart to heal by growing new tissue and blood vessels. Researchers have already used the treatment on more than 400 patients in the United Kingdom.
It is an exciting procedure because there are no viable alternatives for repairing damage from heart failure. Researchers have found that the procedure improves the condition of the heart and reduces heart failure symptoms in 80% of cases.
The Heart Cells Foundation is heavily involved in the trial testing this procedure. They are helping to fund the treatment of many patients who have heart disease and no other viable treatment option available to them. The scheme provides funding for one patient a week.
Another recent breakthrough found that stem cells can treat people who have just had a heart attack. A trial at the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research found that giving a stem cell transplant to patients who have just had a heart attack reduces the amount of damage to the heart and improves recovery speed.
Both of these incredible stem cell breakthroughs have the potential to save thousands of lives each year and improve the quality of life of millions of people.