Posted 9:14 PM 8/30/2012 : Kid treated by stem cells visits lab
TUCSON - A kid who received an experimental treatment visited the lab that may have changed his life.
Doctors diagnosed Luke Fryar with cerebral palsy when he was one year old. He had a seizure before he was born. His right arm barely worked. It was always tense and making a fist.
"I was devastated," his mom, Rachel Fryar said. "I thought, ‘Is he going to ride a bike? Is he going to be able to play soccer? Is he going to go to a regular school?'"
Now Luke is 4. Most people do not notice any disability.
The Fryars paid to save Luke's cord blood, which has stem cells in it, at Cord Blood Registry in Tucson.
They did not know if they were spending money wisely.
"There's no chance that we're going to need it," Fryar said, "but come to find out 15 months later, we did need it."
The Fryars went to North Carolina for a Duke University clinical study. Researchers used cord blood to treat Luke's disability.
"We just couldn't make any process in therapy. We were getting nowhere," Fryar said, "and then he had these stem cells given to him. And then all of a sudden, we started to see progress."
Fryar believes the stem cells are what helped Luke.
"Maybe he would have gotten there," Fryar said, "but I think that we accelerated the process."
Today, the initial cost to store samples at Cord Blood Registry is $2,070. The annual storage fee is $125.
"You can't put a price on it," Fryar said. "It's reasonable. I don't think it's anything astronomical."
More than 425,000 people have their cord blood at Cord Blood Registry.
Kristen Swingle is the VP of lab operations.
"As regenerative medicine is expanded," Swingle said. "Those odds of use are only going to increase."
New clinical studies are testing cord blood's use to treat autism, brain injuries and cerebral palsy, according to Swingle.
"We fully expect that every single one of these samples in storage has a potential to be used one day," Swingle said.
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