By Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director, Kansans for Life
On Monday, when Kansas Gov. Gov. Sam Brownback signed Senate Bill 199 which creates the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, legislators and lobbyists shared space at the ceremony with a cast of supportive patients.
Patients such as Richard Waters came to say how grateful they were for the stem cell treatments that saved their lives and how thrilled they were that the MSCTC would soon be affording such treatments to an even greater number of people.
The Center, located at the University of Kansas Medical Center, will expand ongoing “adult” and “cord blood” treatments and become a global clinical and educational resource for cures and treatments that do not use embryonic or fetal tissues.
Waters had actually learned of stem cell therapies through his own research after suffering several heart attacks.
After his third heart attack, while awaiting death in a hospital room at the University of Kansas Medical Center, he was offered a place in a stem cell clinical trial under the supervision of Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn which is testing the use of a patient’s own stem cells in treatment.
Although Waters’ clinical trial is not yet completed, he is excited about his new chance at life and frequently touts the great need for the MSCTC.
Terry Killman and Mary Lou Rusco both had leukemia which is in remission due to stem cell treatments. Killman received cells from his brother’s bone marrow and Rusco from umbilical cord blood donated by unrelated individuals.
At one point, Rusco had been told she had only four days to live. Upon learning of the stem cell opportunity she went suddenly “from absolute despair to hope.” She is cancer-free and considers herself cured.
Rusco and Killman both said that whenever they spoke of their treatments people automatically assumed the cells were embryonic and were relieved to learn that the cells were taken from the umbilical cord after the baby is born.
And that is the key to this new center— only ethical stem cell sources will be utilized. The prime legislative advocate of ethical bio-science research over the past ten years has been Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, assisted by the scientific expertise of Dr. David Prentice, Adjunct Professor of Molecular Genetics.
Kansas for Life applauds the Kansas legislature and Gov. Brownback for making the MSCTC a reality. Senate Bill 199 is the culmination of many years of work and it was very meaningful to see real people who are being helped by this incredible science.