Doctors are Using Cord Blood to Fight Cerebral Palsy
A day after she was born, Noa had a stroke and began convulsing. Now, two years later, a promising new treatment at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer outside Tel Aviv could help her battle cerebral palsy.
Noa, whose real name is being withheld at the request of her family, is the first patient to undergo this special treatment at an Israeli hospital. It involves a cord-blood transfusion from siblings or a suitable match, and it is performed only on children and babies.
"Studies have shown that cord blood, and the stem cells it may contain, can help to treat brain injuries," said Omer Bar-Yosef, a pediatric neurologist and at the Edmond and Lily Safra Children's Hospital at the Sheba Medical Center.
Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, a professor of pediatrics at the Duke University School of Medicine, is considered the world's leading expert in this field. She is also the director of the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank, one of the largest cord blood banks in the world.
In one of Kurtzberg's clinical trials, she found that children who received cord blood transfusion improved their motor skills by 30% compared to the control group. According to Bar-Yosef, those born with CP currently have no available treatment, only rehabilitative care such as physiotherapy and speech and language therapy.
Bar-Yosef took note of the promising outcome and hopes to replicate it in Israel.