After 26 years in a wheel chair William Orr is walking. Granted it is with the assistance of a walker, but he is walking. Orr is walking to get his mail, he is walking to rehab from his parked car and he is planning on walking into his 35th high school reunion.
The 52-year-old Aurora man has been a quadriplegic for half his life, since a car hit him while he was riding his bike back in 1986. He suffered a C6-C7 incomplete spinal cord injury and has used a wheel chair since.In August of 2010, Orr underwent what many believe is a first of its kind stem cell procedure in Naples, Florida, using bone marrow from his hip that doctors believe has regenerated damaged cells in his spinal cord. He had such a good response that a second treatment was performed in July 2012. Subsequently, Orr has gained both motor and sensory improvement, as well as having the majority of his muscle spasms dissipate.
“There is a remarkable difference. The results for Mr. Orr and others in the treatment group are truly remarkable and have exceeded our expectations” said Michael Calcaterra for Intercellular Sciences. “Frankly, this is an area that regeneration was thought not to be possible.”
“I feel like a new person,” said Orr. “And it’s only going to get better.” He hopes to someday be walking without the walker. Doctors believe that if his quadriceps’ strength continues to improve as well as his foot lift, then it’s a real possibility. In the meantime, he’s relishing every new sensation, big or small. It’s this amazing work ethic and attitude along with the stem cells, his doctor insists, that will help get this man back on his feet again.
In July 2013, Mr. Orr took his first independent steps in 27 years as his spinal regeneration continues.
About Adult Stem Cells
Stem cells reside in adult bone marrow and fat, as well as other tissues and organs of the body. These cells have a natural ability to repair damaged tissue, however in people with degenerative diseases they are not released and directed enough to fully repair damaged tissue. Adult stem cells can be extracted from many areas of the body, including the bone marrow, fat, and peripheral blood. Since the stem cells come from the patient there is no possibility for rejection or tumor formation, also there is none of the moral issues involving embryonic cells. Stem cells isolated from the bone marrow or fat have the ability to become different cell types (i.e. nerve cells, liver cells, heart cells, and cartilage cells). Studies have also shown that these cells are capable of homing to and repairing damaged tissue. Studies have shown that these stem cells secrete proteins and peptides that stimulate healing of damaged tissue, including heart muscle and spinal cord. Animal studies have shown stem cells to be reparative in spinal cord injury.
About the Procedure
Spinal cord injury patients are treated utilizing stem cells from their own bodies. The procedure involves obtaining 480ml of bone marrow aspirate from the hip bone, this is done under anesthesia so the patient is completely comfortable. The sample is then put through a process that first activates and then concentrates the stem cells. The stem cells are then delivered to the area of spinal injury utilizing a novel method of intra-arterial injection in a vascular angiography suite. This is an outpatient procedure and minimally invasive. The patient is discharged later that day.