Stem Cell Transplant to Help with Sports Injuries

Bartolo Colón is currently a 38-year-old baseball pitcher for the New York Yankees. What is interesting about this young man is the stem cell transplant he received in his right shoulder in May of 2010. The transplant repaired the damaged tissues in his right shoulder. While the MLB was investigating his procedure, he played winter ball in Puerto Rico. On January 26, 2011, he signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees, and made his first start for the Yankees on April 20 th.

The usual cost for this innovative treatment is $4,800-$7,500 which includes drawing the stem cells from fat and bone marrow and then re-injecting them into the injury site. This also includes 2 to 3 rounds of platelet rich plasma (PRP) with approximately 9-12 weeks total time. An alternative to injecting the fat and bone marrow the same day, is to harvest them for about a month before re-injecting them into the injured site. One patient (also an athlete) who was inspired by Colón's story flew down to South Florida to have this procedure done. When it came time for the procedure, he laid on his side and had fat injected out of his love handles. For the bone marrow process, a soft spot on the bones is found and then the marrow is drawn out from a needle. A patient will go under anesthesia for this process and then the needle is put in by a small hammer. There is also a small dosage of HGH put in during the procedure, but doctors cannot do this with athletes because it contains banned substances. However, athletes can do some PRP therapy. After the liquids are extracted they get "spun" for 13 minutes in order to isolate the platelets. The bone marrow, blood, and fat then gets loaded into syringes and put under an LED light. A low radiation X-Ray machine is then used to inject all of this back into the body. The injection site will be sore and quite inflamed for a short period of time, but Colón was back pitching 6 weeks after his procedure.

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