A Tennessee man is determined to fight for stem cell therapy to be made available to others after his own treatment resulted in him being cured from blindness.
It was a near-miss car accident 10 years ago which made Doug Oliver realise just how bad his vision had deteriorated due to macular degeneration. After a police officer witnessed Doug nearly hitting two pedestrians, he was handed a $500 fine and told that he must go and see a doctor immediately.
“I basically denied that I did not see them, but I knew that I hadn’t seen them.”
He was forced to relinquish his driver’s licence and give up his career as an IT specialist and social policy consultant.
10 years prior to the incident, Mr Oliver was formally diagnosed with macular degeneration, but was assured by doctors that his vision would ‘hold out until his 60th birthday’
However, the initial diagnosis was far too optimistic.
Tests showed that Doug had 20/2000 vision in the left eye and 20/400 in the right – in short, he was effectively blind.
He was determined to find a cure and began searching for experimental clinical trials that may offer him the chance to regain his site.
After reaching out to a surgeon from a University in his home-town of Tennessee, Mr Oliver finally discovered the opportunity he had hoped for since his secondary diagnosis.
A surgeon at the Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, had been using stem cells, in an experimental capacity, to treat macular degeneration in Florida – and Mr. Oliver was quick to fly to Florida to become the next experimental patient.
His treatment involved the extraction of marrow from his hip bone which was then spun in a centrifuge, with the remaining stem cells being injected directly into his eyes.
The results were truly incredible and within two days his vision had increased significantly – 20/40 in his left eye and 20/30 in his right.
Back in his home-town of Tennessee, Doug was able to reapply for his driver’s licence, re-enter the workforce and stop claiming disability allowances.
His experience has made him determined to fight for stem cell therapy to be available to others.
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