View Full Version : Louisville man seeks stem cel treamtne for stroke

03-02-2010, 04:05 PM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A Louisville man is searching for a cure after being partially paralyzed by a sudden stroke.

Traditional treatment has helped David Annibal, but it has not given him back the mobility he wants. Now, Annibal's making a major move, to Mexico, to get controversial treatment not approved in the United States.

"I was 39 years old. I thought I was healthy. Everything was great," Annibal said about life before his stroke.

An active landscaper and golfer, Annibal thought little about his high blood pressure, until Easter Sunday last year.

"The day that it happened, I was out at the golf course," Annibal recalled. "And I went home, and evidently my blood pressure spiked that day and my fianc? noticed that my face had dropped."

EMS rushed Annibal to Jewish Hospital. He went immediately into surgery and spent the next 11 days in intensive care. Once he regained consciousness, he spent two months in the hospital and six months more being completely paralyzed on his right side.

"I've gotten a lot better in the fact that I can now talk where I couldn't for a long time," Annibal said. "I'm able to walk a little bit. I don't have full motion in my leg at all."

At 41, Annibal can't drive, is basically confined to his home and has little use of his right hand and arm. As a residual effect of his stroke, he now has epilepsy. All of this has taken away his active lifestyle and his biggest love, golf.

"It's things you take for granted until it's gone," Annibal said.

Annibal credited his local doctor for his improvement in physical capacity. He said he wouldn't be here today without that help. But his doctor also told him this may be as good as it gets.

"He said, 'Look, it could take three years or it could take 15 years.' and I might not ever get back to 100 percent," Annibal said.

Annibal said that was not an option he was willing to accept. He started researching for alternatives.

"Me and him talked about stem cells and I told him what my thoughts were, I had done a lot of research on it," Annibal said.

While his doctor didn't recommend stem cell therapy, Annibal said he was encouraged to keep researching.

Annibal's research led him to Dr. Omar Gonzalez in Nuevo Progresso, Mexico.

Gonzalez performs a procedure not practiced in the U.S. called placenta stem cell therapy. It involves taking adult stem cells from the placenta umbilical cord of a full term pregnancy and birth. No embryonic or fetal stem cells are used. The cord cells are then put into the damaged tissue of a patient and act as a repair system for the body, replenishing specialized cells and regenerating organs, such as skin, or blood and even nerve tissue.

"I've seen more than 3,000, close to 4,000 patients. I see about 300 a year," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he practiced the therapy for 19 years in several countries.

"I'm hoping to revitalize that area that is peripheral to the area that died and to regain some function to the area that are a problem right now," Gonzalez said.

According to Gonzalez, after one to two treatments, stroke patients usually see a 15 to 30 percent improvement in speech and mobility.

"It's a very, very complete method that impact your body with very powerful substances and cells," Gonzalez said.

"I've done a lot of research and I've noticed that's it's been helping a lot of people in other countries," Annibal said.

Before Annibal can get to Mexico he has another hurdle to overcome. Border wars between the U.S. and Mexico have intensified making it dangerous and at times difficult to cross, even with police presence.

Stroke is a growing problem in the U.S. In 2004, about 400,000 people suffered a stroke. In 2009, the number jumped to 795,000.