Country of Residence: Spain
Iker Chueca is a 7 year-old boy who suffers from cerebral palsy. From early on, he was not able to walk or use his arms and hands properly. He has always had very limited cognitive skills, especially verbal and writing skills, although he’s always been a very communicative and sympathetic child.
We all know that this condition is very hard for children and that it is very sad for their parents to see them in such a situation. There are many therapies available which focus on the temporary alleviation of symptoms without addressing the brain damage that causes them.
Iker was undergoing Botox therapy to reduce his severe spasticity and help him regain some flexibility and motor skills. However, Botox therapy did not meet our expectations. Although it can reduce spasticity, Botox also reduces muscle mobility which, from our point of view, was a negative consequence that we were not prepared to live with.
Parents will always try to do their best for their children and that is why we decided that Iker should undergo stem cell therapy. Getting in touch with other parents through the internet, we learned about this centre and decided to contact them and send them all Iker’s medical information and MRI. In principle, we were just interested to find out about the possibility of stem cell therapy for the time being. Travelling abroad with very poor knowledge of English can be very difficult; especially if any problems arise. We also felt very responsible for our son’s health and we would never forgive ourselves if something went wrong.
We were very pleased to be assisted in our native language throughout the entire application/evaluation process. Email and telephone calls from very qualified personnel gave us a sense of overall professionalism. We decided to go and we only needed an approval from the doctors. They reviewed our son’s case in detail and kept us informed about their deliberations and our treatment possibilities. Fortunately, they approved Iker for intrathecal stem cell implantation which is a very easy and successful procedure that does not involve serious risks.
Two days prior to treatment, Iker consulted with the neuro-pediatrician and physiotherapist to design an exercise program to maximize the potential of his treatment.
On the day of the treatment, they performed the bone marrow collection which took about 1 hour. We were a bit nervous but everything went perfectly and the stem cells were successfully implanted into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) via lumbar puncture. The CSF transports the stem cells into the brain. In the following days, Iker experienced some side effects such as fatigue, fever and headache but he recovered in 4 days. He is a very positive and friendly child and he remained happy during our entire stay. We will never forget it.
Soon after treatment, we noticed that Iker had a slight release in his spasticity, improving his performance in the swimming pool. The clinics personnel told us that it could be a consequence of the treatment but we should wait a little longer to be sure and to see more results.
That indeed, was the fact. A few months later, all aspects of Iker’s condition improved. His mobility improved significantly and now he is able to hold things with his hands. His hand and finger coordination has improved to the point where he can actually write using a computer. His drawings look much better and he can write using a pen. Regarding his lower limbs, he has better balance and less spasticity. He can swim alone and even jump sometimes. All this has made him more independent. Now he is able to do different things by himself that he was not able to do before such us washing himself, eating, getting dressed, getting up and down on the sofa and in and out of bed.
There have been cognitive improvements as well. His pronunciation and speech are better now. He can compose full sentences with 5-6 words. He can count upwards from 1 to 10 and downwards from 6 to 0. His memory has improved which allows him to do easy calculations and mathematic problems, participate in interactive games, and remember things from one day to the next. Now, we can have a conversation with him and he is able to understand and follow along.
All of the teachers at Iker’s school have noticed a big change but they do not know he has undergone stem cell therapy. Before the stem cells treatment, he was very frustrated at school but now he enjoys learning. We are sure there is more to come and we are glad and thankful to have found this centre.