By Kathryn Reed
Cheryl Millham’s pain couldn’t wait for the government to changes its policy about stem cell therapy. Treatment obtained in Mexico has the 69-year-old pain free, energized and sleeping at night.
“The first thing (this) summer I’m going to hike Mount Tallac,” Millham said. “I was on pretty heave pain medication. I had to let volunteers do a heck of a lot more here. I couldn’t do it.”
Millham and her husband, Tom, run Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. She was delegating more of the rehab for the critters than she had been used to. Sometimes she needed help getting out of a chair and would then have to pause before walking.
Eighteen years ago Millham went in for orthoscopic surgery on her right knee to repair a torn meniscus. The surgeon found zero cartilage between the joints. Physical therapy ensued. Still, she could not put the back of her knee flat when she laid down.
Supplements kept her moving, but the pain was constant.
She messed up her left knee last July 4. After an MRI, Dr. Terry Orr told her the arthritis and degenerative nature of the bones made her a candidate for knee replacement – on both knees.
Millham’s brother, Dr. Robert Bender, told her about a doctor in Mexico who does stem cell therapy. The three had a conference call with Dr. Alfredo Estrada.
She and her husband had a lot to weigh. At 70, the knee replacements would be covered by government health insurance. Traveling to Mexico required taking out a loan.
“We decided we would go with that. If it didn’t work, I could have my knees cut apart and have artificial knees put in,” Millham said. “Ten minutes after the procedure I had no pain, I could walk and I could put my leg down.”
Estrada works at Hospital San Pedro in Monterrey, Mexico. His website www.stemcellmexico.com, says he “has developed a propriety regenerative purification health program consisting of a combination of ozone therapy and cord blood stem cell implantation.”
Tom Millham chronicled the experience at http://tomintahoe.blogspot.com/. Details about injections and getting his wife’s uric acid levels down are there, as well as exploits with Mexican bats.
The benefits of stem cell therapy outlined on Estrada’s website parallel what the National Institutes of Health says. Estrada uses cells from the placenta, not the embryo.
Millham is off all pain meds. For the first 60 days after the treatment she took medication to keep her immune system in check. Doctor’s orders are to walk a limited amount each day, but no hills or stairs. She is also on a restrictive diet.
By April – six months after the treatment – she is expected to be totally healed and able to eat what she wants. She said it’s hard to sit still now that she feels so good.
Other benefits to the treatment include fewer aches from arthritis and age spots on the back of her hands and face disappearing.
“I think I know why they don’t want (stem cell therapy) in the U.S. I’m not on medication and there is no reason to be on mediation again. And I don’t think the pharmaceutical companies would like that,” Millham said.
In 2001, President George W. Bush put strict limitations on stem cell research in the United States. President Barack Obama is contemplating lifting those restrictions.