Delray Beach man's sight restored from newborn Chinese baby's adult stem cells
David Aldrich of Delray Beach nearly drown in a tragic swimming accident in 2002. Months later when the then 44-year-old fully awoke from a coma, he found himself blind and paralyzed from the top of his chest down - a quadriplegic.
"I cried like a baby," David said.
In 2006, David traveled to a hospital in China for stem cell treatments accompanied by a family member, an aide and a crew from National Geographic. The crew filmed David's experience and those of four other seriously ill individuals - including a young child.
Almost miraculously, three weeks and several treatments later, David regained his vision. "It was a pretty tearful and emotional event," he said.
The stem cells used to treat him were harvested from the cord blood (blood that remains in the placenta and attached umbilical cord after birth) of a Chinese baby. This treatment is not being performed in the U.S.
National Geographic produced a documentary, Supercell, featuring David and the other four people who had treatments. The film was shown in most other countries, but not in the U.S. It can be seen at the bottom of this blog in it's entirety.
It is fabulous.
According to David’s opthomologist, Dr. Adriana Saker of the Jaffe Eye Institute, David’s vision in both eyes was 2100 before his treatment, and he could see only dark and light. Normal vision is 20/20.
Today, David's vision is 20/30 in his right eye and 20/50 in his left eye. Saker has no explanation.
David’s limbs, speech, core body strength and breathing have also dramatically improved, and while still legally blind, he sees well enough to read. David requires aides 24/7, but now he frequently rides around his neighborhood unassisted in his motorized wheelchair - his dog, Skipper, running along side him. "That's huge," David said.
David's story in his words
Before his treatment, David could not operate his wheel chair - not even from room to room in the house.
"I would like more treatments," he said. "It's a shame you have to go half way around the world to get them."
He has gone to China twice for treatments - family members paid for part of the first trip and his church donated money towards the second one. Lack of funds prevent him from returning.
David's stem cells came from Beike Biotech based in Shenzhen, China.
Dr. Sean Hu, an MD and PhD in Molecular Biology, is the founder and CEO of Beike. Hu says adult stem cells are used to treat dozens of ailments - heart, cancer multiple sclerosis and diabetic foot to name a few. Hu said the cells hold promise to eventually cure nearly every disease.
Children and adults suffering from both new and old afflictions can be treated with adult stem cells.
The good news, according to Hu, is everyone has stem cells in their nose – after a couple of weeks of coaxing in a laboratory - they become miracle workers.
The bad news is there are many fraudulent companies out there and only a few reliable ones, so Hu says for those in need - do a lot of research before selecting a stem cell company.
Below is National Geographic's documentary, Supercell.