In May, 2005, a team of cardiac surgeons led by Dr. Kit Arom, a renowned cardiac surgeon worldwide at Bangkok's Heart Hospital, and Dr. Amit Patel of the University of Pittsburgh operated on Jeanine Lewis in Thailand, and she became the first patient in the world to have stem cells that had been harvested using TheraVitae's Israeli-developed VesCell therapy implanted directly into her heart.
"I'm not ready to run a marathon," she recently wrote on her website. "But I feel like I did before I was pregnant. That they could take something from your own body and use it to heal you, there's nothing more natural than that."
Earlier this month, Hawaiian music legend Don Ho also underwent the VesCell treatment. He has now returned home to Honolulu.
"He is continuing his rest and recuperation at an undisclosed location," the Hawaiian crooner's publicist, Donna Jung, said Monday. "We're delighted to say that his health is improving dramatically."
The 75-year-old Ho, known for his signature tune, "Tiny Bubbles," underwent a new treatment on Dec. 6, 2005 that hasn't been approved in the United States. It involves multiplying stem cells taken from his blood and injecting them into his heart in hopes of strengthening the organ.
He was among the first patients selected for the VesCell adult stem cell therapy.
The experimental procedure was developed by TheraVitae Co., which has offices in Thailand and laboratories in Israel, where Ho's stem cells were sent to be multiplied. The surgery costs roughly $30,000.
Ho, who has entertained Hawaiian tourists for more than four decades, has suffered from heart problems for about a year. He had a pacemaker implanted a few months ago.
In August, he was admitted to a hospital with shortness of breath. He was treated for an abnormal heart rhythm and released after three days. He soon returned to his Waikiki show on a reduced schedule.
As a coincidence in time, on Dec. 6, 2005 the journal Science was suggesting there was nothing wrong with the paper of Dr. Hwang of SNU and Dr. Schretten of the University of Pittsburgh, titled "Patient-Specific Embryonic Stem Cells Derived from Human SCNT Blastocysts."
Transfers of nuclear material from one entity into the cell of another entity create changes in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) as to the first entity, and are regulated by the FDA.