Monday, March 15, 2010 – Seventeen years ago Bob Grinstead, now 71, from Roswell, Georgia, had his first massive heart attack. After a series of grafts he continued working as a salesman for five years until told to retire as he was in and out of hospital having stents inserted – and then having to have them cleaned out.
In 2003 he had another bypass, this time with three grafts and a short while later he needed three medicated stents. After all this he still went on the next year to have four more heart attacks and yet another bypass was proposed. His specialist at Emory University, not surprisingly, told him his heart was not strong enough to undergo further surgery, so he investigated a laser procedure that would have cut away a part of his heart. Declining this offer his family searched for some real help.
A son read about a man who had had his own adult stem cells injected and was now active, so Bob searched to see if he could get on a clinical trial. His fear that if accepted he might end up in a placebo group sent his family scuttling back to the internet and eventually they found Theravitae, an Israeli-Thai company at the forefront of research and development into adult stem cells for heart failure, ischemic heart disease and cardiomyopathy. Bob read about patients’ successful outcomes and came to believe that adult stem cell therapy represented his best chance.
By the end of 2004 Bob was taking a daily tablet of nitro and gobbling up more every time he exerted himself. The least activity proved painful, and to travel, as he did in December of that year, entailed a wheelchair at every airport. In March 2005 he went to Bangkok, still needing an airport wheelchair and entered Chao Phaya Hospital under the care of renowned cardiologist Dr. Suphachai. After a simple blood draw which was flown to Israel to the laboratory for harvesting of the stem cells he needed, he had to wait a few days until the enriched supply of millions of his adult stem cells were reintroduced into his heart by catheter.
His experience of the hospital and care on Bangkok was simply, “Fantastic. The hospital was spotless and I received the most thorough physical examination I had ever had. The nurses, too, were just wonderful.”
Returning home Bob continued with his nitro tablets the first week but despite being more active, walking further and feeling better within four weeks he was experiencing no chest pain at all, so dispensed with his nitro. He continues to improve to this day and notes that his EF (a measure of the heart’s effectiveness at pumping blood) has risen from 30 to 46.
Two years later Bob is feeling great. He does what he wants to do. He can walk for half an hour and use a treadmill. Living without chest pain alone has been fantastic enough for him to volunteer his time to talk to people contemplating receiving adult stem cell therapy and to share his story.
Bob could have sat on his decking and read a book until he died but instead he and his wife have been to London (where they walked everywhere), the British Virgin Islands and he has skippered a 47-foot catamaran for a week. He is so busy traveling around catching up with his family that in the last year he has spent only six months at home.
The cost? “Not a waste for two years of life. I reckon it was a pretty good buy. It’s a far better option than a bypass,” he said.
Theravitae- makers of Vescell have now helped over 200 end-stage heart patients. Their clinical trial results have demonstrated that over 75 percent of heart failure, ischemic heart disease and cardiomyopathy patients can expect to regain a far better quality of life, be more active and pain free. Further clinical trails are planned and recently the company received Thailand’s Board of Investment approval. The future looks bright for being able to claim that most patients not only gain a better quality of life, but a considerably longer life than they might have expected.