May 4, 2010
Most patients with muscular dystrophy search their entire lives to find a treatment that can help them. Two local men with the same form of MD want to share their stories about a treatment that’s shining light on a dark future
Ryan Benton and Ian Conner have known each other their entire lives. They were both diagnosed with duchene muscular dystrophy when they were little. They’ve watched each other’s health deteriorate over the years. In fact, last year Ian thought his life was over
”At the time, I didn't think I was going to live much longer," Conner said.
“Last year, I thought it would be very soon that he would be dying,” Ian’s mother Laurie Conner said. “We needed to get ready, because he was so sick, in bed a lot and he felt terrible" Laurie Conner said.
But, just when the Conner’s thought all hope.
“ She started telling me about what happened with Ryan and started giving me so much hope," Ian said.
Ryan went to see a doctor in San Jose, Costa Rica who researches and works with adult stem cells. Dr. Neil Riordan is a Wichita native. He grew up with Ryan’s and Ian’s parents.
Riordan’s I-C-M clinic researches stem cell rejuvenation, which is not legal yet in the United States. But, Dr. Riordan calls it the future of health care
"It's revolutionary in medicine and I'm glad to be a part of it," Riordan said.
MD patients don’t produce enough dystrophen and this is what causes their muscles to deteriorate.
Ryan has been treated at the clinic three separate times over the past year and a half. He’s been injected with a series of adult stem cells from donor umbilical chords. He says the results have been amazing
“We got a muscle biopsy back and it has produced dystrophen and it's producing normal amounts of dystrophen," Benton said.
This is what Ian is hoping for too. Ian’s been treated just once so far, about six months ago. And although he hasn’t had his dystrophen levels checked yet, he says he can already see improvements. He says his breathing is better and his balance has improved. And he’s finally been able to put on some needed weight.
“The main difference I've noticed I've gained a lot of weight i was down to 77 pounds," Benton said.
His mother Laurie is excited. She says this new treatment has given her son a second chance at life.
“I feel like there has been a dramatic difference," Laurie said.
The Bentons and Conners are hoping some day, the FDA will approve these treatments and they could be offered in the United States, so they don’t have to travel outside the country.
“I wish he could get the treatments more often enough that it could do more because it's showing promise," Laurie said.
Dr. Riordan has discussed some of his research with an organization in the United States “parent Project Muscular Dystrophy,” hoping to get its support behind his treatments.
According to Pat Furlong at the Parent Project, she says she remains skeptical, but also interested in finding out more information about these treatments and would like to visit the ICM Clinic and learn more about the research from dr. Riordan. She says it’s too early to tell if these stem cell treatments may be the cure people have been praying for.
For more information about the ICM Clinic and Dr. Riordan's treatment for Muscular Dystrophy, you can call toll-free at 1 (800) 980-STEM (7836).