Owen Cooke, 61 years, Osteoarthritis and Accident Damaged Foot

I live near Dublin in Ireland.

At age about 25 years, I crashed a hang glider and smashed my right ankle. The main damage was to the talus, which was shattered. I also damaged my back.

Initially, I had the talus put together with 3 screws but pain was severe when walking. So five years later, I had the upper ankle joints fused using some bone from my hip.

This was ok, but gradually, walking became more difficult and I took up windsurfing as my only active sport.

Over the years, the remaining articulation in the foot became restricted and I damaged it several times windsurfing, particularly 2 years ago, when a high-impact jump resulted in almost permanent pain.

Sleep usually required a half bottle of wine or sometimes more, but I continued to windsurf. Over the last 2 years, I never went through airports without crutches and even on windsurfing trips I used crutches to get around when off the water. On the water, there was considerable pain but I love the sport and the work-out it gives.

Guy Cribb, a pro windsurfer, told me about some windsurfer he knew who got stem-cell treatment for a knee problem and so my wife researched it.

I went to a leading foot surgeon shortly after the damage 2 years ago and he gave me no hope of any improvement. So, as an alternative to amputation or totally fusing the ankle joints, I decided to try stem cell treatment.

"Overall, I am very, very pleased with the result so far."

Without any surgeon's involvement I got in touch with the clinic and went there in September 2010.

The process took one week - tests day 1, bone marrow extraction from my hip day 2, x-ray scans day 3 , stem cell injection into joints day 5 and flight home day 6.

On the morning after treatment, I found my continuous pain was fully gone. At this stage, I had been using crutches full-time for the past 2 years; except around the house or office.

Now, just 10 weeks later, I don't need the crutches for any normal activity and while I used crutches for a recent flight, I didn't feel that I really needed them. I don't have the pain anymore and while I still have a poor foot, I feel that it is as good as it was before my accident 2 years ago. No more alcohol needed to sleep and little or no pain when on the water.

Henrique P.

I don't know what the longer term benefit will be yet but I plan to try to get scans done to compare with the scans taken before treatment, to see if the cartilage in the ankle and foot is improving and re-growing.

If the improvement continues, I will consider having more stem cells collected and frozen for later treatment. I am 61 years old and I believe that the vitality of the stem cells will reduce as you get older.

My experience with the clinic was very pleasant - I loved the city- nice people, strange how few shops take credit cards. Food was great and far cheaper than Ireland.

The staff at the clinic was very friendly, efficient and overall I quite enjoyed the week

Overall, I am very, very pleased with the result so far.

Owen Cooke

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