Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' News

May 30, 2012

Stem cell treatment regrows Georgia man’s foot

DALTON, Ga. -- By the time Dr. Spencer Misner had carved away the dead and diseased flesh from Bobby Rice’s right foot last year, little remained other than bones and tendons.

“I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t look real. It looked like something out of a movie,” recalled Rice.

Today, the ankle has almost healed. It looks like Rice had simply scraped it. And Rice’s foot has largely healed, too. Misner credits cutting-edge stem cell treatments for saving Rice’s foot and leg.

Rice, who has diabetes, stepped on a piece of glass last fall and his foot quickly became infected. After trying a home remedy, Rice went to the hospital emergency room where doctors found he had a rapidly spreading necrotizing fasciitis, or in layman’s terms, flesh-eating bacteria.

Physicians treated the infection with antibiotics. However, Rice had one toe amputated. Doctors had to strip away much of the flesh from Rice’s foot and a great deal of flesh along his ankle.

“We did what we had to do,” Misner said. “We got the infection out. We saved his life. But what do you do next? We’d normally say all you can do now is cut of his leg so he can get on with his life.”

But Misner had another idea. He contacted Ed Fickey, a sales representative for Osiris Therapeutics, and asked about using the company’s new stem cell technologies to rebuild the foot and ankle.

Stem cells can grow and differentiate into many different types of cells. Stem cell treatments introduce these cells into damaged or diseased organs to repair them.

“The problem is that Bobby is an indigent patient and didn’t have the financial resources. Ed spoke to the company, and they agreed to donate the products for free,” Misner said.

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