Sunday, March 31, 2013

Gabriella Had Stem Cell Surgery!

The information you are about to read was originally written January 11, 2013, but wasn’t posted until Easter day, March 31, 2013.

In early 2011, the Lord opened my eyes to stem cells and the incredible gift of healing that they can bring. About 9 months after learning about personal stem cell surgery, I made the decision that this was something Gabriella needed to do.  

In December, the girls and I headed back east and then south for an "All Girls Trip". We visited some friends, Gabriella underwent her first stem cell surgery, and then we flew to Disney World for a few days.

Gabriella had her first stem cell surgery using her own bone marrow, 
removed from her hips, on 12/12/12.

Her right hip, not shown, had an extraction site the size of a needle... no swelling, no bruising, no pain. 

This left side of her hip had a hole the size of a needle, however there was swelling the size of a Mento candy. This is what the site looked like on day 2, post surgery. The bruising was the diameter of just over an inch. There is still bruising three months later on this side. 

Three hours post surgery, you would not have known she even had surgery. 

We intentionally did not tell any family (including siblings, aunts and uncles, and grandparents), teachers, or doctors about her stem cell surgery... in hopes they would start seeing her progress themselves.

Gabriella was adopted at age 3 ½ with ZERO balance standing. ZERO!  She could sit and crawl but she would fall multiple times a day, regardless of the over-protective mama I am.  Her receptive and expressive language was exceptionally delayed.

Diagnosis: Severe cerebellar atrophy

Her main issues at the time of her adoption due to her under-developed cerebellum included:

She was unable to sit or crawl without falling, unable to stand at all, unable to walk unless holding two “focused” adult hands…  she could understand some Chinese (because she was living with a Chinese foster family prior to adoption), and we think she had about 5 Chinese words in her vocab. Her speech was exceptionally unclear.

Fast forward to the week before we left…

What could she do PRE stem cells:
By the grace of Almighty God we saw significant improvements since adoption through fasting, prayer, organic food, eliminating wheat and corn from her diet other than a couple pizza meals each week, taking high-end supplements including the most notable (Univera Essentials which is an all-in-one meal in a 3oz. bottle with immediate absorption) among many, many others, and refusing additional immunizations. Gabriella is making remarkable gains. She did get good physical therapy at school for about an hour in preschool and she was getting up to 30 minutes of physical therapy once a week in kindergarten.

·        She went from zero seconds standing in 7/2010 to 12/2012 (pre-stem cells)… standing on average for 30 seconds (and sometimes a minute or two)… and had stood ONCE for a miraculous 6 minutes and 25 seconds (timed and videoed… thank you Lord!)
·        She has begun to be able to take SUPER baby steps (one or two steps at a time before falling)… HOWEVER, she took 9 steps prior to stem cells (unassisted)… Please see her video: “Gabriella Walks!” via … this is the direct link:
·        She can ride a 16” bike with regular training wheels, she can use her walker unassisted, and she can get dressed by herself and almost get undressed by herself (dresses are still hard). She can use the restroom unassisted and bathe without me having the fear of her drowning.
·        She had learned all her ABC’s and their sounds two weeks home from China… before the neurologist saw her. She learned to blend sounds within 3 months of that and was reading 3 letter words within 4 months.
·        By 12/12/12 she could read sentences in “Bob Books”… at the Kindergarten level… and some first grade level books… though it took more than 15 minutes to read those few pages. She could spell and write her name and she could talk and understand at about a 2 year old level.

What did I hope from stem cells for my 5 yr. 11 mo. old daughter:
·        Gabriella started throwing massive fits the month prior to stem cells… not sure why, but I believe it’s because she is in a special needs class where 4 of the 6 kids throw fits daily… she started to begin to show “autistic” behaviors in her movements… not something that she has demonstrated prior to November 2012. She also knew we were going to Disney World soon (something we did 2 days after her surgery).
·        Gabriella repeats herself over and over and over and over again. She might ask “Mama, what’s for dinner?” a hundred times or more a day from the time she wakes up until the time she eats dinner. I would REALLY like this annoying behavior to stop.
·        Gabriella asks questions in general over and over again… even seconds after she asked the first question.
·        Her balance has obviously gotten better, however, we hope to see increased improvement.
·        We hope to see her begin to walk.
·        We hope to see her begin to talk more, with sentences, better sentence structure, and read more fluently while remembering what she read.

What has happened POST stem cells for Gabriella the FIRST MONTH:
·        Gabriella (and her newly adopted sister of 6 months- age 2 yrs. 11 mo.) both began speaking in sentences 2 weeks post stem cells.
·        Gabriella’s reading has increased in speed and accuracy. She is reading phonetically.
·        Gabriella can actually now read THREE books in the time it took her to read one.
·        Gabriella took 10 consecutive steps on week 4 post stem cells, walked up the stairs yesterday holding the rail with one hand… one step at a time (not alternating feet).  Today  (1/11/13), she walked up the stairs with one hand and alternating her feet.
·        She is migrating more around the home… crossing hallway walls and corners to get to the bathroom or her room.
·        She has greater balance… she stands and talks to me much more often and for longer periods of time, even removing clothing such as a jacket or shirt.
·        Today her physical therapist at school said the following:  “I can see she’s been practicing her outlining – it’s getting more steady.” (uh…. no, she’s not practicing much at home)
·        Her recent “fits” that began in November  are now subsiding.
·        She has GAINED WEIGHT… Holy cow… this is huge… she weighed 25 pounds as a 3 ½ year old coming home from China and COULD NOT GAIN WEIGHT for an entire YEAR. The second year and a half home, she gained 12 pounds. SHE HAS GAINED 3 POUNDS POST STEM CELLS… in ONE MONTH!
·        And, my favorite… she is no longer repeating herself like she did. She NOW might ask me 5 times in a day “What’s for dinner?” 

What has happened POST stem cells for Gabriella THREE MONTHS later:
·        Gabriella can now read the same Bob books that took her about 15 minutes to read, pre stem cells, in two to four minutes.  
·        She continues to want to read several books in one setting, a minimum of three books each sitting.
·        She is able to read these books now without having to sound out the same words on the same page. Once she knows a word, she generally knows it for the rest of the book. She has at least 10 words in her reading knowledge that she can now see and say rather than actually sound out and read.
·        She is beginning to ask questions… “Why?” is her new favorite question.
·        She can stand AND DANCE in place… even for minutes.
·        When her sister whacks her, she is often able to tell me how, why and where.
·        She is now able to speak with pronouns: he, she , you, me
·        She is negotiating more productively with her newly turned 3-year old sister… there are fewer fights and fits.

As of 1/11/2013, What do we anticipate in the near future:
·        Gabriella will walk unassisted… no longer needing her walker.
·        Gabriella will talk and understand at a 3 year old level by summertime.
·        Gabriella will fluently read at a beginning first grade level by summertime.

The Lord says in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you.”  (NKJV) The Lord has been healing our daughter for many months… healing in a way that I can really watch it happen.  Stem cells have helped this healing manifest even quicker.

“Make straight paths for my feet so that what is lame
may not be dislocated but rather healed.”
Hebrews 12:13 (NKJV)