Originally Published: December 1, 2009 10 p.m.
Phil Phillips' story should be a triumph of progressive medical advancements, not one of political or even ethical debates. But it is just the same.
The Prescott Valley resident flew to Cologne, Germany, for two stem cell transplant surgeries to attack his Parkinson's disease. The 59-year-old grandfather went from stumbling and shaking and slurred speech to, quite literally, bowling and a life of relative comfort. "He smiled again," his wife, Donna, said.
The United States is behind in its stem cell technology after former President George W. Bush signed into law a 2001 ban on federal funding on the research. A signature this past March by President Barack Obama lifted that ban.
"The American Medical Association supports President Obama's decision to lift the ban on federal funding of stem cell research," the AMA said at the time. "Stem cell research holds great promise to treat diseases that science has so far been unable to cure, and this change in policy will allow researchers to accelerate their efforts by applying for federal research funds."
Phillips has lived with Parkinson's for 22 years. "You have to take some pills for the disease, and then you have to take more pills to counteract the side effects of the other pills," he said. "Pretty soon, you're taking pills for fake diseases that were created by the other pills."
Then there's the other option.
The extraction of stem cells from adults and umbilical cord blood causes no harm to the patient. Research using stem cells obtained from adults and umbilical cord blood has been used to help thousands of people with various ailments. At least 73 different diseases or ailments have been treated with or helped by the use of adult stem cells including with Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, various forms of leukemia, heart damage, and various forms of cancer.
Funding for stem cell research is alive and well. Patients are, too.
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