Tomas’s mom developed pre-eclampsia, a hypertension disorder sometimes developed during pregnancy which can cause serious health risks for both mom and baby, during her fifth month of pregnancy. This high blood pressure pregnancy complication affects kidney and liver function and when left untreated, can lead to blood clotting failure, fluid buildup in the lungs, seizures and in severe cases, death. With this diagnosis, Tomas’s mom was put on immediate bed rest to try and relieve her pre-eclampsia symptoms.
Just when she was feeling some relief, Tomas’s mom received the unfortunate news that her baby’s heartrate had slowed down due to two knots in the umbilical cord. Doctors grew concerned for Tomas’s survival and decided then that they needed to deliver him via C-section to avoid any further complications, despite his mother being only 31 weeks pregnant.
Born with his lungs slightly undeveloped, Tomas had to be put in a NICU incubator to receive breathing assistance. If these complications weren’t enough, the NICU incubator Tomas was in malfunctioned, ceasing the production of oxygen he needed to survive. Without enough oxygen to support his brain and body, Tomas developed tetra spastic cerebral palsy in both legs and arms.
Tetra spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy. Since it affects the part of the brain responsible for motor function, people with this condition have stiff and jerky movements as the hypertonia or increased muscle tone creates stiffness in their muscles. As a result, it was believed that Tomas would never be able to talk, walk or play like other children.
This is when Tomas’s mom remembered his umbilical cord blood stem cells, which she banked for him at a local cord blood bank. A clinical trial at Duke University accepted Tomas after hearing about his case. He joined several other children with similar conditions and underwent the transfusion of his umbilical cord blood stem cells over the course of three years.
Since his treatment, Tomas’s mom proudly announced that he has learned two languages! He has learned how to walk and loves playing ball games with other children. She mentioned his accomplishments proudly, as his doctors once told her he would never be able to do the things he’s doing now. With great thanks to his umbilical cord blood stem cells, she hopes Tomas will continue to thrive.
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Read Tomas’s story here.