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Stem cell treatment to get back your sight

The story of Taylor Binns, who suffered from a rare eye disease, which led him to gradually lose his sight, shows the amazing possibilities that stem cell technologies offer to the medical profession. A team of scientists from Toronto helped to save Taylor’s sight by performing so called limbal stem cell transplant, an innovative treatment gradually being introduced across the hospitals around the world.

Taylor Binns was diagnosed with corneal limbal stem cell deficiency. This is a condition that affects the cornea, causing it to gradually get covered by ulcers, leading to eventual loss of sight. The lead surgeon said, : “Everything you could do before was being taken away, day by day, and it got worse and worse.” As there is no conventional treatment available, Taylor was prepared to live the rest of his life without any vision. Luckily for him, innovative doctors from Toronto Western Hospital offered him stem cell transplant – he was the first patient to have such a surgical procedure in the institute. “The alternative was to live in constant pain all my life,” he said. “So there really wasn’t anything to lose.”

Just like with any other transplant, Taylor’s Doctors had to find a healthy match. His sister, Victoria, was the ideal candidate for the transplant.
Doctors first removed the scar tissue on Taylor’s eyes, and replaced them with Victoria’s healthy stem cells. The transplant was successful.
“Within a month he could see 20/40,” says his Ophthalmologist Dr Allan Slomovic. “On his last visit he was 20/20 and 20/40.”
Slomovic is really excited about the success, especially in a situation when there is no other treatment available.

Taylor is now living a normal life again, but such an experience has made him rethink his life and values. He got so fascinated about the science behind the human eye that he decided to become an Ophthalmologist.

Toronto Western Hospital has done 6 similar transplants after Taylor’s treatment and all were successful. But the most important – all stem cell transplants were from a living donors.

photo courtesy of Dream Designs / freedigitalphotos.net