Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stem Cell Surgery

Yesterday Jeff and I drove to Kingman, AZ to meet with a renowned spinal surgeon to discuss the details of having my own stem cells injected into my spinal cord.  Let me first explain how we came to here about this surgery and meet Dr. Smith.

Jeff was attending his annual Chiropractic Biophysics Convention at which various speakers discuss the latest research and techniques concerning the spine.  One of their featured speakers was Dr. William Smith, a leading spinal surgeon based out of Las Vegas.  He spoke for a couple hours on the growing use of stem cells for healing purposes, particularly for those people with spinal injuries.  Jeff was absolutely blown away by the lecture and called me to tell me the details.  We both felt that it was more than just a coincidence that this doctor just happened to be speaking at a chiropractic convention that Jeff was attending.  It honestly felt heaven-sent.

Since then we've been trying to coordinate a time to meet with Dr. Smith to discuss the actual procedure.  Well, yesterday we got our chance.  Here's the breakdown.  Basically Jeff and I would fly to Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean, where there is a state-of-the-art hospital and research facility.  Upon arriving I would get settled into a beautiful hotel and prepare for surgery.  The 3 hour surgery would then follow, which would involve harvesting stem cells from my bone marrow.  The cells would then be separated and prepared for re-injection.  Dr. Smith would then make a 3" incision in my back and carefully make his way to my spinal cord.  Once there he would identify the injured portion, clean away any scar tissue, and inject the stem cells above and below the injury site.  He would then close me back up and send me to recovery.

The surgery is mildly invasive and the recovery should be minor (nothing compared to my first surgery).  Results would then follow in the next weeks and months.  Dr. Smith was very clear that my results are not guaranteed, and that 20% of patients have no results.  I think the most important thing to note, though, is that no one has had any adverse effects due to the procedure.

Jeff and I have discussed this very expensive and basically experimental procedure a lot and feel that it is something we're meant to do.  I believe the Lord had a hand in the circumstances that put Jeff in touch with Dr. Smith.  I am an excellent candidate for the surgery because I'm only 7 months post-injury, and the procedure is definitely more successful in newly injured spinal cord patients.  I'm also in excellent health and am already seeing function return to different parts of my body.  I firmly believe that this surgery will make a dramatic difference in my recovery.

With that said, the biggest hurdle to overcome will be coming up with the money to pay for the procedure.  We have not received an actual quote for the procedure, but Dr. Smith believes it will be somewhere between 30-45K which includes all of our accommodations, food, and travel around Cyprus.  The only thing not included in that cost is the air fair, which I'm sure will be few thousand dollars for the both of us.  Since Jeff and I basically have no money, and are even still paying my previous medical bills, we will be fund-raising to acquire the funds.  Jeff is setting up a non-profit organization where people can make a tax-deductible donation.  In the meantime, if you have any great ideas or would like to help in any way we would appreciate it.  We are looking to have the surgery done sometime in January.  Yikes!  I know that we can raise this money, it's just going to take a lot of people getting the word out, so start racking your brain.

I am so excited that this opportunity basically fell into my lap.  I know that the Lord's hand is in it.  Please pray for us as we prepare for this next big journey in our life.

By the way, you can go to the link below and learn more about the procedure and check out some pictures of the facility.  Thanks so much for your support!  Love, Brittany

Here's a map if your unsure of Cyprus' location because I was.


Mimaw said...

You don't know me. I found your blog and was intrigued. Please post where we could donate. I'm sending good thoughts out in the universe for you and your family.

Gretta Whalen said...

This sounds amazing!
Let us know how we can help you raise money. Maybe there's something we can do out here....

Anonymous said...

you don't know me either but a friend of mine had a silent auction on her blog to raise money for an international adoption. Her friends and family and even strangers would donate items or services and then she would put a list together and run the auction. I am not sure of the details of how it all worked but she had so many cool things donated that she raised a lot of money. good luck!

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