What if someone told you that your own body could potentially help heal a physical condition affecting your everyday life? Stem cell therapy makes this possible every day at the Kansas Regenerative Medicine Center. Located in Manhattan, KRMC is the Midwest leader in adult stem cell therapy, treating over 1,000 patients to date for orthopedics, osteoarthritis, back, neck, and spine, neurological, and some autoimmune diseases. Stem cells are your body’s natural healing cells. These tiny cells have the potential to recognize tissue injury and repair damaged cells. Trapped inside of your own body adipose fat is an extremely rich source of these stem cells.
Through a relatively painless liposuction procedure, highly trained physicians at KRMC can harvest your stem cells from your own fat and administer them into tissues, joints, or veins. Stem cell therapy is minimally invasive, requires no general anesthesia, and can potentially serve as an alternative to major surgery. This treatment is new and upcoming, according to Kate Farley, Director of Marketing & Business Development at KRMC.“We are on the cutting edge of this innovative technology, which will be a big part of regenerative medicine in the near future,” she said.
Stem cell therapy has been in practice for decades in foreign countries. In the USA, veterinarians have been using stem cell therapy on animals for a little over 10 years and some pioneering physicians for over five years. KRMC has been open for three years this month, and is one of the largest stem cell treatment centers in the country that focuses solely on stem cell therapy. The fact that they receive a great amount of their patients from referrals shows how successful KRMC has been. Farley has witnessed this first-hand.
“Stem cell therapy is a very intricate process, so you have to do it all the time to be good at it, but that’s what we’re doing all day every day,” she said. “We also strive to treat each patient like family in order for them to have the best experience possible. Any patients coming from out of town, we offer a hotel room for no extra charge, just as an added gesture,” she said.At KRMC, the physicians have treated patients aging anywhere from 15 to 95. There is never a guarantee of success, but they have experienced patient satisfaction rates, around 85%, in cases related to arthritic conditions.
Although it is still unknown as to why stem cell therapy works for some people and not on others, Farley urges people with conditions affecting their everyday routine to look into this alternative treatment.“There are no guarantees, and that’s something people need to know, but there are no negative side effects,” she said. “We help people get back to their normal routine. It is not uncommon for patients to one day realize they just did a physical activity they hadn’t done in years. It just seems like the most simple tasks, but these are things that run their life,” she said.
Currently, stem cell therapy is considered patient funded research and is not covered by medical insurance yet. The cost of treatment varies depending on the condition being treated. Patients who have undergone stem cell therapy and found success, will tell you that every penny is worth it. Linda Graham, 56, is one of those patients.
For about 10 years, Graham dealt with severe arthritis pain in her joints. The progression was gradual at first, and it became noticeable when she started feeling pain in her joints while doing things she normally did.It started affecting different parts of her life, including work. Graham has owned Carpet One Floor and Home in Manhattan for decades, and the pain in her joints started interfering with how she operated the store. “You’re just not able to do the things you’ve been able to do, like my job,” she said. “We move a lot of tile and stuff, and I really couldn’t do that anymore.”
Even lifting and bending became difficult for her.Before turning to KRMC, Graham had attempted several things to try to improve her condition, including several spinal block injections in her back and physical therapy.“Pretty much I’d done everything that had been suggested to do for it, and none of it helped at all,” she said.
Things changed around seven months ago when Graham’s sister-in-law told her about someone she knew who had gone to KRMC for their shoulder and had a good response to the treatment.Graham began researching stem cell therapy, called the center, and eventually met with Dr. Lyons. After visiting with him, she decided it sounded like something she wanted to try.
“They explained everything very well to me,” she said. “So I understood the process and knew exactly what was going to be going on.“I was excited to try it because it was something that could be done. I couldn’t have any more surgeries on my back, and I was excited to use something that could possibly make me feel better that uses my own stem cells. I wasn’t hesitant because I was very comfortable with the doctors and what they had to say.”
The day Graham went in for the treatment, she received a total of 32 injections in her back, neck, and left hip. One might think this would be a painful procedure, but Graham said otherwise.“It wasn’t painful,” she said. “You know, to some people it might be, but I’m used to having injections and stuff in my back.”
It was just three weeks later when Graham noticed a huge difference in her back. She started being able to do simple tasks that, before the treatment, had caused unbearable pain. Getting up and down out of her chair, picking things up, putting socks on, and even simply standing would cause her pain. But not anymore.
The stem cell therapy has greatly improved Graham’s quality of life, especially at Carpet One, where she usually works 60 hours a week.“I think it just made me a better person here at work when you’re not constantly in pain in things that you do,” she said. “I don’t have to take Ibuprofen and that stuff constantly. I don’t take pain medication. I think it just made me an overall better person to be around.”
Graham is extremely appreciative of what KRMC has done for her. She hopes others with symptoms similar to hers will look into stem cell therapy and not be afraid.
Duane Hund has had a similar experience with KRMC. In 2010, Hund, who was 54 at the time, went into his orthopedic doctor to do a scope of his left shoulder due to constant pain. After the scope, he learned he had no cartilage left in his shoulder. With the only advice he was given being “try to live with it as long as possible,” Hund spent the next five years struggling with the condition. He woke up every night to stabbing, searing pain in his shoulder.
It got to the point where his wife was worried about him driving because of how little sleep he would get each night. “It was real common for me to wake up multiple times during the night because of the pain,” he said.It affected other aspects of his life as well. He was limited to what he could lift while working in the cattle business, and found himself limited to what he could do at home.“It was painful for me to change a lightbulb – raising that left arm all the way up,” he said. “I would notice that if I had an easy day, I would wake up less often at night.”
He felt like he had exhausted almost every single one of his options, from physical therapy to over-the-counter drugs, and found that nothing was effective.Then, KRMC opened. Hund and his wife started doing research on stem cell therapy since they knew the doctors at the center that would eventually perform his procedure – Lyons and Dr. Pope.Hund reached the point where he was prepared to make serious changes. It was either the stem cell therapy or replacing his entire left shoulder.
He and his wife eventually took Hund’s X-rays to the center. Lyons and Pope looked at them and told Hund they were 85% sure they could help him. After they thoroughly described the process, Hund felt very comfortable.
“It made me feel like these guys are experts,” he said. After that, any hesitation regarding the treatment was gone.“Something had to change with my sleeping problem,” he said. “If the stem cell therapy didn’t work, I knew what the alternative was.” Hund ended up going in for treatment in July of 2015. He still recalls that day very well, remembering lying down on the table where Dr. Pope gave him the practically painless stem cell injection.
The days that followed brought no change. That is, until about six weeks later, when Hund woke up one morning realizing he had not woken up a single time during the night.“The first time I slept through the night, it was like ‘did that really happen?’” he said.Since that night, he said it continued to get better as time went on. He now sleeps through the night, and can continue to live his everyday routine with minimum restriction.
As a side note, Hund mentioned that, in addition to the treatments aimed at improving his shoulder, the stem cell treatment also rids him of some symptoms associated with the early stages of P a r k i n s o n ’ s . KRMC noted that this type of positive side effect is not uncommon. Hund is extremely grateful that his treatment from KRMC has allowed him to continue to live out his active lifestyle.
Hunt and his wife Diane of 36 years, both work on a farm that has been in Hund’s family for five generations since 1872.“I can continue to do what I love to do in the cattle business,” he said. “My wife and I would have had to quit if the pain kept up.” In addition to their farm, the Hunds also have kids and grandkids. Because of the stem cell therapy, he can now physically pick up his grandkids, something he was unable to do before.
“I can be a better grandpa and a better husband, and still do the things I love to do,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity. It doesn’t work for everyone, but I’ve had great success with it. I thank the Lord for that every day.”