Medical Minute 10-18: Placentas Help People Walk?

By: Melissa Medalie Email
By: Melissa Medalie Email

Ronald Davis can move again after seven long years.

"Pain 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Plaque clogged the artery carrying blood to his leg, which cut off oxygen flow. It's called peripheral artery disease. Left alone, it can cause ulcers, gangrene and even lead to amputation.

"There, at some point, it felt like the muscles were ripping out. It's just so painful," said Ronald Davis.

Ronald began a last-ditch stem cell therapy at Duke University. His leg was marked for 30 injections -- totaling millions of stem cells. For him, there was no other choice.

"There really isn't an adequate therapy."

Cells are taken from the placentas of Israeli women who've given birth. Once injected, they secrete proteins, which boost additional cell growth. Then, it's believed those cells may contribute to the growth of additional vessels around the plaque -- circumventing the blockage.

"We are looking for something else to do to prevent an amputation or help healing," said Manesh Patel, M.D., Cardiologist.

Three days after injections, Ronald was walking, and doctors say the oxygen level in his leg tissue jumped from 43 percent to 67 percent.

"I have these feelings in it now, feels like it's healing."

For Ronald and his wife, feeling is believing.

"This has given me more light at the end of the tunnel, like I'm through the tunnel now," said Davis.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Debbe Geiger, Senior Media Relations OfficerDuke Medicine News and Communications Durham,

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