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31 Mar 2003

Stemcell Retrieval via umbilical cord
Dear Doc

My husband had an accident 8 months ago leaving him paralyzed from the T3 level downwards. Eversince our lives haven't been the same at all. We are interested in "harvesting" his sister's baby's stemcells with her blessing, which are in the most pure form it can possibly be just after his birth, within the umbilical cord that links him with his mother. WE have done research on stemcells and its current and future value for various kinds of treatments and have read of a South-African couple about 6 months ago in the Beeld that had the procedure done by a South-African specialist.

Now what I really would like to know of you is whether you can help us? We would really like to know if you can perhaps tell of any specialist in South Africa that can do this kind of specialist work of retrieving the stemcells in the cord at birth and storing it for us using the right procedures for safekeeping the cells for future use, as I can imagine it should be a very delicate procedure to make sure the cells are unharmed and pure.

Please, do you know of any one we can ask or contact for this procedure? We haven't got very long to arrange this very delicate and expensive procedure, as she should be due to give birth middle to end of May of this year.

Kindly let me know as soon as possible, as this is a case of life and death for my husband and me.

Thanks so much for this great website and the help you guys give us without asking anything in return!

Kind regards

Adri Vermeulen
Tel (H) 013 712 6979
Answer 380 views
Expert
GynaeDoc
gynaedoc

01 Jan 0001

I am presuming that you want the stem cells in order to have a child with genetic material similar to your husband's. If this is the case, have you considered ICSI? Here sperm can be extracted directly from the testis and can be used to inseminate an egg obtained from you.
Stem cell technology is in its infancy in South Africa. It is usually used in the context of preimplantation diagnosis, where genetic disorders can be diagnosed by analysing DNA from cells which have just begun to divide. The idea of extracting stem cells and then using them to clone a baby, I doubt would be available in SA.
You can discuss this further with a geneticist. I have spoken to one of the geneticists in Cape Town. His name is Dr Rik de Decker and his number is 021-4066307. You could speak to him for more information, or to one of the geneticists in your area.

Best wishes
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