Two-Year-Old Emerges From “Vegetative State” After Adult Stem Cell Treatment

Bioethics   |   Bobby Schindler   |   Jun 5, 2013   |   4:18PM   |   London, England

Another Reason to End the Deliberate Inhumane Killing of the Brain Injured

The death crowd is certainly not going to like this story. It is being reported that a two-year old boy emerged from a persistent vegetative state (PVS) by treating him with umbilical cord stem cells. From the story:

Doctors claim to have successfully treated a child suffering with cerebral palsy with stem cells for the first time. Just weeks after being given an intravenous stem cell treatment from umbilical cord blood, the symptoms of a boy who had been left in a vegetative state after a heart attack improved considerably. Within months he could talk and move.

When a person is diagnosed to be in a PVS, they are essentially said to be unresponsive and written off from the possibility of making any type of meaningful recovery. In this particular situation, physicians believed this boy, known only as LB, would never improve from his PVS condition.

Why is this news so significant? For me and my family, this news is very significant because it validates that stem cell treatment, other than the much ballyhooed embryonic stem cell treatment, continues to make huge advances helping people. In the case of my sister Terri Schiavo, it supports my family’s contention by asking the question: why are we deliberately killing people with these types of brain injuries when no one can anticipate the medical research that can eventually become available to aid these individuals?

Perhaps more importantly is that it highlights the potential dangers of the lethal PVS diagnosis and the need to for it to be abolished. Besides the manner in which the word itself “vegetative” dehumanizes a person, we should stop using the PVS diagnosis as a motive to kill our brain injured brothers and sisters.

Some background on the PVS diagnosis – it is completely subjective, left up to the discretion of the physician(s) examining the patient. It should come as no surprise that in recent years, several studies have found that over 40% of those diagnosed to be in a PVS are, in fact, not. We can then understand why you hardly, if ever, read from our mainstream media that the PVS diagnosis is used as a criterion – every day – to justify killing patients, as it was in my sister’s situation. Imagine that, a diagnosis that is being used as criteria to kill our most vulnerable is close to having a 50% error rate.

Indeed, how many of us realize that it was this unscientific PVS diagnosis, which was used by the judge in Terri’s case, Judge George Greer, to rule it was “okay” to kill Terri?

In fact, to this day, the media relies heavily on this PVS diagnosis to rationalize Terri’s barbaric dehydration and starvation death and others killed for the same reason.

We loved Terri regardless if she ever improved from her brain injury, but my family contended Terri was not in a PVS. Particularly after she began forming words from the rehabilitation and therapy she was receiving just subsequent to her unexplained collapse in 1990. Not to mention that there were several neurologists and health care professionals that believed Terri was not in a PVS and could have improved with proper therapy and the medical technology that was available when she was alive.

Now, with his new development, those like Terri, with these types of profound brain injuries, and there are estimates that in the US alone upwards of 200,000 individual are in a similar condition, could possibly be aided in their recovery. And one can only imagine where Terri might be today with the help of modern medicine.

In the case of this L.B., doctors initially didn’t think the stem cells treatment would help:

After going into cardiac arrest in November 2008, the unnamed two-year-old boy, known only as L.B., was left paralysed with severe brain damage and in a vegetative state. Doctors warned his parents that his chances of survival were minimal.



Doctors were wrong. How many times do we hear that? And they were not just a little wrong, as L.B. made incredible steps to improve after he was giving umbilical cord stem cells:

But just two months after treatment with the cord blood containing stem cells, his symptoms improved significantly.

And after three years, he improved even more:

Around 40 months after treatment, the child was able to eat independently, walk with assistance, and form four-word sentences.

What will it take to stop using this PVS diagnosis as a reason to kill our medically vulnerable loved ones? I hear it all the time, “there is no chance of any significant improvement” or “who would want to live that way”? But it is these statements that are putting countless vulnerable individuals in the cross-hairs of a growing anti-life mentality.

My sister’s case clearly demonstrates the dangers in this way of thinking. The fact is that if Terri were alive today, we could have tried to help her. Whether or not she would have responded isn’t the issue – loving a person unconditionally is what’s at stake and ultimately how we will be judge as a nation.

This is something we should all keep in mind when we see such an inspirational story about the recovery of this young boy.