A husband and wife pair in western Washington state are trying to raise money for him to go to Germany for a stem cell transplant for his failing heart. Erik and Jenn Gelhar have already raised $40,000 of the $100,000 they need to get him to Germany for the treatment at XCELL Centre in Dusseldorf Germany.
So why does an American have to travel to Germany to get such a treatment? Why are they farther ahead than the United States in adult stem cell treatments for heart disease? According to this article that quotes Dr. Charles Murray of University of Washington, it is because of Bush’s funding restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and cloning:
Erik Gelhar is unable to get treatment in the United States because they are not as advanced as Germany in stem cell research. Germany has cutting edge technology and the people’s view about stem cell therapy is different, Jenn Gelhar said.
Dr. Charles Murry, co-director at the University of Washington’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, said the U.S. is still in the early stages of stem cell research. He said the ban that the Bush administration put on federal funding for the research slowed down the progression since it was a controversial and political issue (…)
The reason Germans are so far ahead in adult stem cell treatments is because they don’t waste time or money on stem cell research that does not now, and may never, treat patients i.e. embryonic stem cell research and cloning. (Imagine where the United States would be if millions of dollars that are spent on embryo destructive research were put into adult stem cell research instead.)
Gelhar also has to fly to Germany because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. has ruled that harvesting one’s own stem cells and using them as treatment, a procedure called an autologous stem cell transplant, falls under the same strict guidelines as a new drug. This means that an autologous stem cell transplant, like the one Eric wants, has to go through long years of clinical trials.
I wish the Gelhars all the best in their efforts. (If I lived closer I would go to the concert they are putting on to help raise money.) I pray that Erik gets his stem cell transplant and gets to live a long and happy life. I hope he will not fall victim to the politics of embryonic stem cell research.