China stem cell hopes for cerebral palsy girl

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu

Last Updated: 1:44am BST 15/05/2007

A British couple are hoping to send their eight-year-old daughter to China for revolutionary treatment for cerebral palsy, they said yesterday.

Kishor Tahiliani and his wife, Priti, plan to raise £18,000 for stem cell injections that they believe will give their daughter, Vaishnavi, known as Shonia, a more normal life.

The treatment is not yet available in the UK but a hospital in China has made a breakthrough in treating cerebral palsy. The procedure involves injecting stem cells into the spinal cord fluid. The stem cells then flow directly into the brain.

The treatment at Tiantan Puhua Neurosurgical Hospital in Beijing has already helped 19-year-old Gabor Bocskai from Hungary to walk, sit up, swim, concentrate for longer, see better and speak.

Mr Tahiliani, 34, who works in hotel management, said: "This is the best treatment for her. There are cerebral palsy children who were totally blind and now they can see, that's in Mexico.

"My wife spoke to an American woman. They were crying on the phone. Her child is able to do what a normal child does. He used to get fits before, all the epilepsy fits have gone. He was unable to walk and he is walking now.

"There are so many children who have improved. It's amazing really."

Until recently there has been no medical treatment for cerebral palsy, which is caused by poor oxygen supply to the brain before, during or immediately after birth.

The two-month treatment in China uses stem cells taken from the umbilical cords of healthy babies. These develop into new nerve cells and repair some of the brain damage.

Shonia will need physiotherapy and speech therapy to help her learn how to hold her neck, sit or stand alone and speak. Mr Tahiliani and his wife, a 34-year-old care assistant, discovered the breakthrough after a year-and-a-half of internet research.

He added: "I think many parents are still not aware of this revolutionary treatment and what it's doing for others."

He said: "China are quite advanced in this field.

"The UK has fallen behind at the moment. Research is still in its early stages here, it will be 2010 before it comes into action.

"I think it will open so many doors for children."

Shonia cannot speak but understands English and Hindi, she cannot sit or walk by herself and is confined to a wheelchair. When she was born, doctors had given up hope and told her parents, who live in Bournemouth, Dorset, that, if she lived, she would never walk or talk.

But her parents say she can smile, show happiness and respond to them and she is trying to formulate words.


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