HUDSON — Unfortunately, it’s back to square one for Brenda and Ken Grabast.
A life-changing stem-cell treatment for their son has been canceled with no indication that it would be rescheduled at the XCell-Center in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Brenda Grabast has received an e-mail confirming that the XCell-Center has shut down its stem-cell treatments until further notice.
“The final sad message is that we cannot offer stem cell therapy anymore — maybe in the future — we do not know yet,” the message read. “Therefore and very unfortunately, I have to cancel your planned treatment.”
Derek Grabast, 8, was to undergo a stem-cell procedure to treat non-verbal autism and spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. The second-grader is unable to talk or walk. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 2 years old.
The stem-cell procedure extracts and treats patients with their own adult stem cells. Fundraising had enabled the Grabasts to plan their life-changing journey to Germany.
The XCell-Center had previously had permission to practice for a transitional period because it was already up and running when a law came into force in 2009 banning the commercial exploitation of unproven stem cell treatments.
It appears German authorities have now decided to close the loophole.
“There was a loophole that allowed them to continue, while under the understanding that they would get everything ironed out and fixed prior to the deadline,” Brenda said. “They did not, so the government came in and shut them down. Apparently, they had 18 months to get things lined up and changed, but didn’t. There was a possibility they could still fix everything and be back up and running by the middle of next year.”
Brenda said the family feels obligated to pursue all options after the generous donations. They’ve gotten a hotel deposit back, but refunds for the airline fare and payment to XCell are still uncertain.
“It gives you an uneasy feeling that we haven’t been able to do anything with the help we’ve received, but our goal is to get Derek treatment that will help him get better,” she said. “It’s too bad the door got slammed in our face.”
Grabast’s research indicated the X-Cell-Center received high reviews from patients and family. Now, she is starting around-the-clock research to investigate other options. There are a few promising possibilities.
“Beike Biotech in China; Remidi in Ireland; and Sheba Medical in Tel Aviv Israel are a few I am looking at right now,” she said. “Tel Aviv was rated the top in the world in 2009, with a procedure similar to what the XCell Center offered.”
Brenda is very cautious and that exhaustive research requires time and patience.
“I research the stories of families that have been to each of these places,” she said. “I check into their reputation, statistics, success rates and treatment options. All of this takes time, but this research is vital to choosing the facility that best fits Derek’s needs.”
Since treating its first patient in early 2007, the XCell-Center emerged as Europe’s leading stem cell therapy provider.
Patients sought treatment for spinal cord injury, diabetes, cerebral palsy, heart disease, autism, various eye diseases and neurological disorders like stroke and Parkinson’s.
The Sunday Telegraph in London, England, reports that the XCell Center was investigated following the death of an 18-month-old in August. The Telegraph reports that German authorities decided to re-examine the legality of the XCell Center operation.
A complete Telegraph story appears at the following web address: