Today was all about science and technology. Fred and Elaine checked in this morning at 8:30 at the California Stem Cell Treatment Center in Rancho Mirage. We were all excited and anxious to see what the day would bring.
Elaine went first. The docs at the clinic took her back to harvest stem cells from fat cells. They get the fat cells through a mini-liposuction process. Of course, they had a lot of trouble finding any fat on Elaine so it took a little more digging that anticipated. After they found enough fat, Elaine went back to the waiting room to hang with Fred while the scientists did their work. They were in the back separating out the stem cells from the fat cells and preparing them to be intravenously injected back into her body. They were able to harvest over 200 million stem cells (which is 180 million more than they expected). The doctors explained that Elaine's stem cells were in perfect condition and ready to go back to work in her body. They attributed the condition of her cells to the healthy lifestyle she has maintained all of her life. The fact they were able to get so many stem cells is very exciting and leaves everyone very optimistic!
Once the stem cells were prepped, they brought Elaine back for the IV drip. As we mentioned, the stem cells were injected via IV directly into her bloodstream. The strategy was to put the stem cells into a blood vessel in her right arm which would carry the cells into her brain so they could start rebuilding damaged tissue right away. The idea is that the stem cells can identify the damaged areas and attempt to regrow the tissue (arteries, etc). If the tissue is deemed irreparable by the stem cells, they may be able to find alternate pathways for blood and nerves.
Other stem cells that don't stop in the brain will continue on their path through Elaine's left arm into her hands and fingers, as well as into her left leg all the way down to her toes - finding and hopefully repairing damaged tissue on the way.
The doctors are optimistic that Elaine remains a good candidate for improvement from the procedure, and they were pleased with the sheer number of stem cells they were able to pull from her. If this works, there may be visible improvement in the next 3-6 weeks and even more progress in 10-12 weeks. It will be an anxious time for all of us, though we know that Elaine won't give up on her therapy waiting on this miracle. It is very important that she continue on with her therapy, they work together and the stem cells won't work without her continued hard work! For now, she is in some pain from all of the digging as they were searching her little body for fat.
Fred also went through a similar digging process. They were able to extract 90 million stem cells during the harvest. He had a different procedure to get his stem cells back into his damaged knee. They separated the stem cells, then spun them together with his blood trying get the right vehicle for the stem cells to ride into his knee. Then, they took a large needle and injected the mixture right into his damaged knee. His expected timeline is the same as Elaine's - about 10-12 weeks for full effect.
It was quite a day on the cutting edge of medicine for the Smith family. We remain optimistic that today will lead to great progress for Elaine and great relief for Fred. Thank you to everyone who called, texted, or gave their support in person. Everyone one of us had tons of well wishers over the past couple days! Special thanks to Fred and Elaine's visitors today. Pat came over to spend the day with the Elaine while Fred was in his procedure and brought her lunch. Mary came by to sit with Elaine this afternoon as well. Rockee also stopped by to check on Elaine. Thanks again for all of the love and support!
Fred and Elaine were certainly beat after their long day of get poked and prodded. Fred stopped by Mama Gina's for take-out and they were enjoying a quiet dinner at home before heading to bed to dream about the miracles of modern medicine! They are heading back to the beach in the morning because Elaine has therapy with Paul at 12:00! She never stops! Hopefully the cars all get out of the way for Fred and the carpool lane remains free of cars for the entire drive home.