If Canada Can Do It, Why Can’t the US?

It’s interesting that in Canada, a patient can refer herself to a doctor (see below) and request a stem cell transplant to cure her rare autoimmune disease, but in the US, my friend, Cristy, was turned away from countless clinical trials and was refused the treatment even though doctors agreed that it was her best hope for survival.

It is inexcusable that elsewhere in the developed world, autologous stem cell transplants have a proven record of curing debilitating autoimmune disorders, yet in this country such patients must travel abroad to save their own lives, or stay home and suffer.

According to the article, Stem Cell Transplant Brings Promise of Remission for Those with Rare ‘Stiff Person Syndrome,’ published on the Council of Academic Hospitals Ontario website:

Responding to a patient’s ardent request, the Medical Director of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute applied a stem cell treatment, used for autoimmune diseases, to a rare brain disease characterized by debilitating muscle stiffness and spasms. It has stopped the disease, and improved the patients’ quality of life beyond measure.

It started with one patient. A woman with one of the rarest and most debilitating neurological diseases, dubbed ‘stiff person syndrome (SPS),’ contacted Dr. Harold Atkins, Medical Director and Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI). She begged him to perform a stem cell transplant on her, knowing that this treatment had worked for others with different autoimmune diseases.

Encouraged by the success of stem cell transplants on other diseases, Atkins prudently made the decision to go ahead. And he was right: This new stem cell transplantation, although not a cure, prevented the disease from progressing and left the patient well enough to return to normal activities. In fact, quality of life for these patients has improved exponentially. . . .

Stem cell transplants have been used for decades to treat leukemia. At The Ottawa Hospital, the exact same kind of stem cell transplantation had been used to successfully treat patients suffering from other autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), which can be resistant to more conventional treatments. . . .

To read the complete article, click on the link above.

The article is careful not to suggest that SCT is a cure, but when all symptoms of a disease disappear and normal functioning is restored, it’s pretty close to a cure.

It’s time for the United States to move into the 21st Century and approve SCT for autoimmune diseases.

About Sharon

**Writing, both personal and professional, has always been an important aspect of my life. **Personally, whether I write from experience or invent fictional characters, I learn so much about myself. Writing has always helped me understand and deal with important events and issues in my life. The blog, "Boxelders and Blackberries" serves this purpose. **My "gravatar" is a boxelder tree, which I hope provides a way to bring together my personal and professional writing. The boxelder tree branches into multiple trunks, each representing a different direction my life and career has taken.
This entry was posted in 5 STEPS Advocate, 5 STEPS to Being Your Own Patient Advocate, autoimmune disorders, Cristy Kessler, stem cell transplant and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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