Stem cell offers man with bulllet injury new shot at life

Published: January 12, 2010  |  Source: indiatimes.com
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MUMBAI: For 34-year-old Deepak Singh, stem cell therapy might not have worked the first time, but the second time, it has given him a new lease of life.

After being duped by a doctor who claimed to have conducted a stem cell therapy on him, Singh, who had been paralytic and bedridden for seven years, went for the same treatment a second time. This time, however, barely a month after being injected with stem cells derived from the umbilical cord of a newborn, he has got back his reflexes and sensation.

The businessman from UP was shot at by his rivals following which his spinal cord was shattered — the bullet was lodged in the back bone, cutting out blood supply from a little below his chest to his feet. He lost all sensation and movement in the lower part of his body, including bladder and bowel movement. Doctors in Lucknow and even in Delhi failed to suggest any treatment and he was gradually rendered completely bed-ridden. After suffering silently for three years, he came to know about a gynaecologist in Ghaziabad who conducted stem cell therapy for spinal cord. Ignoring the obvious oddity, Singh went ahead with the “treatment”.

“I waited patiently for months, hoping and praying that my health would show some improvement. But nothing happened,” said Singh. He later realised that he had been injected with some unidentified fluid in the name of stem cells. “I shelled out Rs 50,000 for each injection,” he said.

However, Singh did not give up. After reading up more on stem cells, he came to Mumbai. Consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Breach Candy and Criti Care hospital B S Rajput, who is currently treating him, said three levels of Singh’s spinal cord were hollow when he had come in for treatment.

So, in Singh’s case, the doctor used the mesenchymal cells, which are derived from the outer lining of the umbilical cord of a newborn. These cells can be converted into different types of tissues, including nerve cells. Adding to the advantage of using such cells is the fact that it does not have to be retrieved from the bone marrow of a patient. “Harvesting cells from the marrow would mean that the patient has to be under anaesthesia for six hours; as a result, he is more vulnerable to catching infections or developing other complications,” said Rajput. Mesenchymal cells, which are derived from the umbilical cord, can be directly injected into a patient’s body.

“Also, these are non-reactive cells; so a patient does not need to be constantly under the fear that his body may reject the cells,” said Rajput. “These cells can be given to any patient unrelated to the donor.”

Singh has now regained his reflexes. “I can feel the tickling sensation as well as pain. After so many years, I feel that the lower part of my body actually exists,” he said, the joy on his face hard to miss.

Rajput, however, said Singh had to be on physiotherapy for at least a year or more. “He will also have to be injected with another round of cells after three months,” he said.

Sumitra Deb Roy, TNN