Stem cell therapy helps woman avoid amputation

Staff Reporter

Diabetes severely affected the blood flow to her left leg

Traditional methods of treatment were not possiblePatient's nervous framework restored considerably

CHENNAI: A 68-year-old woman for whom amputation of the left leg had been suggested by doctors because blood flow was severely affected by diabetes has been successfully treated with stem cell therapy.

Doctors at Vijaya hospital helped to restore some of the nervous system in the left leg of the woman by harvesting stem cells from her bone marrow and then injecting the cells into her leg. "We were able to restore the major vessels in the leg and foot. However, it is not 100 per cent," S.R. Subrammaniyan, chief consultant vascular surgeon, Vijaya hospital, said at a press conference on Sunday.

Dr. Subrammaniyan said the patient, a diabetic for the last 17 years, came to the hospital two months ago with an ulcer in the left foot, and the skin on most part of her lower left leg and foot open. After conducting an angiogram, he found that the vessels were so badly damaged that the traditional methods of treatment, including bypass surgery, was not possible.

The stem cell therapy was performed by four doctors, including Dr. Subrammaniyan. The therapy, which involves injecting stem cells obtained from the bone marrow of the patient, was performed under regional anaesthesia.

The bone marrow stem cells were isolated at the Nichi-in Centre for Regenerative Medicine. "Since we used stem cells derived from the patient itself, and not any external animal or human protein, we were sure that her system would not reject the cells," he said.

Dr. Subrammaniyan said that in 60 days, the patient's nervous framework in the left leg and foot had been restored to a considerable extent, and the skin had also grown back in some parts. There was huge potential for this treatment in India where otherwise many people lose a limb to diabetes.

The cost of the treatment is around Rs. 40,000-50,000. However, Dr. Subrammaniyan expects the cost to come down further, as more people go in for this kind of treatment.

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