By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
WITHIN six months of opening, Okyanos Cell Therapy in Freeport has reached a significant milestone, having treated its first 100 patients at its $10m facility in Grand Bahama.
The clinic – in the First Commercial Building on the Mall Drive – treats patients with serious chronic illnesses and conditions using the patient’s own adult stem cells.
Okyanos has reported achieving “remarkable results” and shared some of the testimonials of patients such as Gloria, 70, of New Jersey, and Paul, 73, of Spain.
Corina Froese, marketing and communications officer, said due to industry constraints, which protect the privacy of patients’ information, the company cannot share the full names of its clients. She said patients in their 20s have also been treated at the clinic.
According to Gloria, her doctors told her that there were no more options for treating her congestive heart failure and that the next step was a heart transplant. However, her primary doctor recommended stem cell therapy. She met with the medical team at Okyanos and underwent treatments at the clinic using her own fat derived healing cells.
More than five months after her treatment in Freeport, Gloria says that her quality of life has significantly improved. She says the treatment was life saving. “I’m sure I would have died,” said the great-grandmother. “Life is wonderful, and I’m so thrilled. I don’t go to bed and cry, I feel good. I haven’t said that in years.
“I can do the vacuuming, which I haven’t done in months. I couldn’t wash my hair properly before because my arms would get too tired. Now I can wash my hair as many times as I want. My fear has turned into confidence. I’m sure I would have died, as the doctors couldn’t do anything more for me. I never thought I would feel this good, and I feel stronger every day. Okyanos gave me back my quality of life.”
Paul, a medical doctor from Spain, also reported remarkable results following stem cell treatment in Freeport. Diagnosed with polyneuropathy and Type 2 Diabetes a decade ago, he suffered nerve damage and immobilising pain, and was restricted to a wheelchair.
“Gone is the red-hot poker pain. Also, my feet – diabetics commonly get claw toes where the toes are not straight due to blood flow diminishing, as well as ulcers, skin conditions, and sweating. All those things have disappeared,” said Paul. “My toes are now straight; my skin temperature is now warm and not cold. Also, the swelling is virtually gone from my knees down, even after recent flights. The people close to me have noticed. Family and friends say that I have undergone a remarkable transformation in the last few weeks.”
Okyanos offers cell therapy to patients suffering with the daily limitations of neuropathy, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and other chronic conditions. The innovative procedure, according to doctors, is premised on the healing power of adult stem cells isolated from a person’s own body fat which has the ability to decrease inflammation, repair damaged tissue, facilitate better cell-to-cell communication and stimulate new blood vessel growth.
“We are honoured to share in the wonderful successes of our patients,” said Dr Todd Malan, chief cell therapy officer at Okyanos and a pioneer in stem cell therapy. “As a physician, there is nothing more gratifying than to be able to safely and effectively offer relief and restore function to patients like Paul who simply had no other options for his condition.”
Dr Matthew Mick, interventional cardiologist at Okyanos, said prior to the option of cell therapy, patients like Gloria who live with chronic, progressive diseases such as heart failure faced a bleak future.
“Hundreds of published papers and clinical research done with adult stem cells have now afforded us the opportunity to give hope to these patients and their families that they may return to a more normal lifestyle,” he said.
Okyanos is the first stem cell facility in the Bahamas and is fully licenced under the Bahamas Stem Cell Therapy and Research Act, and adheres to US surgical centre standards. The literary name Okyanos, the Greek god of the river Okyanos, symbolises restoration of blood flow.
Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez has said The Bahamas is among the leaders in the Western Hemisphere that have in place comprehensive legislation that allows for professional expert oversight of clinical stem cell research.