I thought I would take a brief moment to talk about why I chose to go ahead with the stem cell treatment for Patrick right now. Stem Cells are one of those topics that in the U. S., our government has managed to keep the public guessing about. If not guessing, there is such a plethora of mis-information floating around out there that it is hard to adequately describe what we are doing to each and every person I speak with.
Every time I was pregnant with one of my children, I was given brochures on banking cord blood. My ob-gyn was the person who first told me about the importance of saving a child's cord blood because it is full of "stem cells." She gave me brochures from a couple different companies that explained "stem cells" and "master cells of the body" very simply and thoroughly. The brochures explained how I could save this precious cord blood in the event of my child being diagnosed with a disease or having some sort of exposure that caused irreversible harm, that I could probably use the stem cells to heal him.
By the time I had child #4 I saved his cord blood at one of the "cord blood banks."
That also started me thinking.....if this would work for a child who had his stem cells saved, perhaps Patrick could benefit from his younger brothers Joe's stem cells. This was in 2005 when I started trying to find the answer to this question.
I eventually stumbled on a great paper by a Dr in California. This Dr was a bit older and no longer practicing, . The paper was very obscure....not sure how I even found it. I would sit around just googling different variations of stem cells and topics related to children and autism. I printed out this entire 40 plus page paper and read it over and over. I eventually ended up putting it in one of my files and placing it on the back burner.
Right around the time I had Joey (my fourth) in 2005, I ended up having a conversation with the late Dr Rimland regarding stem cells and this wonderful paper I had found. In 2005, I was not even able to google this doctor or find the paper. Luckily, I had kept a copy. It must have been fate, but this man turned out to be a personal friend of Dr. Rimland's. I ended up speaking to him on the phone. By this time he was officially retired and not even researching any longer but he felt that the stem cells were still a really solid option.
I have touched base with him a few times over the years. I vacillated around back and forth about when the right time to actually do the stem cells for Patrick would be. Would it be when he was really acting out, his yeast issues in his gut were flared up and we were seeing a lot of stimminess? Or when he was acting much better, his yeast and bacteria were down, his overall general health in good shape? Would that indeed be the time?
In 2008 I had studied several clinics and in conjunction with one of our main autism specialists in Florida, had a couple of clinics that were highly recommended. I was extremely close to going ahead with the procedure then. I think at the time, Patrick was still heavily chelating, so I decided that we would get through all of that and then let things settle out. The thinking by everyone on the "team" was that we would see where the metals were after we finished the IV chelation. It was a hard decision at the time, but now I am very glad we waited.
At that time we were still looking at the Costa Rica clinic. It was funny, I remember that during the planning for our 2008 local FEAT walk that several of my friends were helping put together goody bags at the chairpersons house and she was running me down for thinking about taking Patrick to Costa Rica for medical work. Several of the other moms told me and mentioned her issues that she voiced regarding Costa Rica. I thought it was comical at the time. We had just returned from an extended visit to Central America; specifically Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.
I think that many Americans don't realize the extend of solid medical procedures that are being performed in other countries. Are there charlatans out there? Why, yes. Snake oil Salesmen? Emphatically yes! But there are good doctors and good procedures. By working with my doctors in the US I have been able to find good clinics with a medical director and doctors who have graduated from Harvard Medical School. All of the doctors have been educated in the US and most are from the US. The head of the clinic is speaking at a medical symposium in Miami next week.
The way I have always felt about Patrick's autism is that I want to help him live life to it's fullest potential. If I were a child I would want that from my parents. I know that my own parents would have not been forward thinking enough to have stepped out like this when they were raising me back in the 1970's and 80's. However, I don't even think of the stem cell treatments as anything "crazy" or "out there". I just think of them as an option in the medical portion of Patrick's therapy. I feel really fortunate to be able to do this for him.
I would urge any parents or person who is reading this and considering stem cells to do your own research. And do it well.
I am documenting Patrick's behavior and medical issues very carefully before, during, and after the procedure. Hopefully our information will help other parents make decisions. I plan on letting everyone know our results...the good, the bad, the non-existent. I am praying for the good. Please join me in doing that.