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Twin Undergoes Experimental Brain Damage Treatment


New Zealand Twin Undergoes Experimental Stem Cell Brain Damage Treatment…

A twin who was brain-damaged at birth has become the first New Zealander to undergo experimental stem cell brain-damage treatment.

The toddler was flown from her home in Auckland to the Duke University in North Carolina, America, where doctors infused blood from her own umbilical cord into her brain.

maia friedlander undergoes experimental brain damage treatment Twin Undergoes Experimental Brain Damage Treatment

Before the operation, Maia Friedlander, 4, was developing noticeably slowly. Despite 6 hours of therapy everyday, Maia still struggled to walk, talk or even chew her food without chocking. While her sister Ariel hit all her developmental milestones six months early, Maia did not learn to walk until she was three.

“Our lives revolved around her therapy regime but we couldn’t see much improvement,” her father, Daniel, said.

The families luck began to change when the met American mother Mary Schneider. Mrs Schneider’s son had been the first to undergo the experimental umbilical cord blood transfusion at the Duke University. She explained to the Friedlander family how 5 years later, her sons development was still normal.

More than 50 other children with brain-damage have been treated through the Duke’s reinfusion programme.

So, in August Maia and her mother, Jillian, traveled to the US where doctors performed the infusion using Maia’s own umbilical cord, which her parents had stored since birth.

Within just a few days Maia’s concentration and coordination improved dramatically. Maia now attends kindergarten like a normal child.

“She’s like a different child – talking, hugging us, playing … She’s had a second chance at life and we can now have the family life we’d always dreamed of.”

The news has encouraged five other Kiwi families to send their children to Duke.

Mr Friedlander noted that $55,000 dollar fee, plus the travel expenses to the US, maybe out of the reach of many families, adding:

“We would like to see the reinfusion procedure available to families here.”

Despite the promising results, Joanne Kurtzberg, the head of Duke’s programme, cautions against seeing the treatment as a cure just yet.


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