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Saved by Stem Cells

stem-cell-therapyCNN News reported in June the story of a South Dakota man healed debilitating pain in his wrist with stem cells taken from his own fat tissue.

A Patient in Pain Saved by Stem Cells

Bill Marlette had been living with extreme pain in his wrist for several years. The source of the pain was cysts and holes in the bones that made up his wrist. Marlette's cartilage, which serves as a cushion for the joints of the body, had been worn away, leaving him in extreme pain as his bones rubbed against each other.

This pain made regular activities unbearable for Marlette, and even shaking hands and dressing himself became excruciating.

After rounds of anti-inflammatory medications, Marlette still had pain and no cure for his problem. After discussing his options with his doctor, Marlette opted for stem cell therapy to heal his damaged wrist.

How Stem Cells Can Heal

Stem cells are a type of undifferentiated cell that can develop into any tissue of the body and can regenerate infinitely. This combination of qualities makes them a powerful and effective treatment for healing damaged tissue anywhere in the body.

"Stem cells hibernate in our body until they are needed for healing," Dr. Bill Johnson, M.D., said.

Johnson is a Dallas, Texas, physician who uses adipose fat stem cells, the same kind of stem cells used to heal Marlette’s wrist, to treat patients for a wide variety of health conditions.

When the body experiences an illness or injury, the damaged cells put out a special call for help using growth factors. Growth factors are a chemical "text message" that tell the body to send stem cells, blood and other critical healing components.

"These growth factors awaken nearby sleeping stem cells, which quickly go to work repairing damage and truly healing tissue," said Johnson.

In addition to repairing damaged and diseased tissue, stem cells and growth factors have the ability to also reduce inflammation and pain.

Why Fat-Derived Stem Cells? 

While stem cells are found in almost every tissue of the body, stem cells derived from fat have greater benefits than those found in other places. One of the benefits of using fat derived stem cells is that they typically in abundance for most individuals.

"Most people have some area of extra fat where they don’t want it, like the abdomen, thigh or buttocks, to take from," Johnson said.

Stem cells found in other tissues are not as prolific as those found in adipose fat tissue and regenerate themselves much more slowly than adipose fat cells.

Another benefit to using fat stem cells is that they are easily harvested compared to other types of stem cells, like those found in the bone marrow.

"Fat derived stem cells are harvested through a quick and simple liposuction procedure," Johnson said.

Patients remain awake during the harvesting procedure, and there is little to no pain during and after the procedure.

The collected stem cells are separated from other tissue and then redeployed into the patient intravenously or through injection.

Once redeployed, the fat stem cells go to work healing areas of damage or disease. Fat stem cells do not have to be programmed or prodded to start the healing process. Reacting to the growth factors in the damaged area kicks the stem cells into developing into the type of tissue that is needed for repair.

Reduction of Pain and Proven Results of Stem Cells

After a single treatment with his own fat stem cells, Marlette began to quickly see improvements in his affected wrist. The painful cysts and inflammation were gone, and the cartilage Marlette had lost over the years was regenerating to once again cushion his bones.

"The benefits of stem cell therapy for joint conditions are great. Most patients experience increased range of motion, improved function and less dependence on pain relievers," Johnson said.


CNN Health. Patient uses fat stem cells to repair his wrist. CNN Health. 22 May 2017.

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