Charlie Knuth: Adult Stem Cell Success Story Returns Home to “Hero’s Welcome”

By Dave Andrusko

Last week, we posted a couple of entries about the preposterous mischaracterization of legislation to make sure that in Minnesota there is no state funding for human cloning. Opponents falsely insisted the ban was really about banning funding for embryonic stem cell—which is transparently is NOT—for the simple reason there is virtually no public support for cloning human beings and bringing them to term.

Borrowing from the web of NRLC’ state affiliate, the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, we mentioned that, “MCCL showed on its blog a photo of a young patient ‘successfully treated at the University of Minnesota using adult stem cells. His story highlights the potential of adult stem cells to help people. It does not tell us anything about human cloning, or about embryonic stem cell research, which have had no therapeutic success.’”

That young boy is five-year-old Charlie Knuth, who came home to Darboy, Wisconsin last week (for video, see

Charlie’s problem is a rare genetic skin disease, one I’ve never heard of — epidermolysis bullosa, also known as EB. According to the stories I’ve read about EB, it is a terrible disease characterized by incessant skin blisters, inside and out, which typically “leads to an aggressive form of skin cancer.”

But on December 30, Charlie underwent a bone marrow stem cell transplant—which is, just to be clear, an adult stem cell transplant. Last week, in the Post-Crescent newspaper, we read, “His skin looks incredibly better,” Dr. Jakub Tolar, Charlie’s physician at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, told Michael Lewis Vinson. “Basically 90 to 95 percent of his body area was covered in sores. It’s less than 5 percent now.”

After leaving the hospital in mid-February, Charlie stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis. He came home to Darboy on April 9 and drove down main street in a fire truck to a “hero’s welcome.”

The reception left his mother in grateful tears.”She says Charlie has become the poster child for all the children suffering from his rare skin condition. ‘I’m just so happy for Charlie that he gets to experience this because he hasn’t got to experience too many good things so far in life and I think this is a start to a new beginning,’ Trish Knuth, Charlie’s Mother, told FOX 11.”

I wish I could end the story there. But just prior to Charlie coming home, Trish Knuth spoke out against the ban on funding human cloning, according to WBAY television. She evidently had been persuaded by opponents that the bill “would prevent others with life-threatening diseases from receiving stem cell transplants.”

To the credit of the reporter, it was made clear that “Charlie’s transplant came from a bone marrow donor and not an embryo.” And Taky Ono also went to Minnesota state Senator Michelle Fischbach, a co-author of the bill, who said, “The proposed human cloning ban only addresses the initial creation of embryos, not stem cells or research with stem cells.”

Fischbach added, “Every stem cell success for patients to date has used non-embryonic, non-controversial stem cells, and we hope and encourage that activity to continue while respecting the dignity and welfare of human life.”

We wish all the best to this brave young boy. Charlie is expected to return to school next fall.

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