A Little Rock child is the first in Arkansas to take part in an FDA trial using cord blood stem cells to treat his cerebral palsy.
Before the injections, 3-year-old Drake Haynes was severely developmentally delayed. Now, Drake is running, jumping, playing and talking just like any other kid his age.
Drake’s mother, Nicole, says his transformation has been dramatic. “We never knew if he would smile and he does, a lot!”
Drake’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy came after suffering a stroke due to lack of oxygen to the brain during birth. “He couldn’t walk, he couldn’t talk, and he just sat there.”
Drake’s speech therapist, Barrett Feltus, saw little to no signs of improvement. “At first he wasn’t making any sounds or very few sounds. Now, he’s talking in words. He’s able to tell you what he wants and needs in a sentence.”
The Haynes say it’s all thanks to having Drake’s umbilical cord blood banked at birth. Now, Drake’s own stem cells are helping him heal. “The neurologist doing the assessment was amazed. She just kept saying, “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe he can do this.”
Feltus says she can see the light in Drake’s eyes. “He was unhappy for a while because he couldn’t communicate. Now he can, and he’s happier. He plays with the kids, and he can communicate his needs, so he’s overall a happy kid.”
The Haynes credit the cord blood stem cell injections for the difference in their happy, determined child. “It’s like a blind has been lifted on a window.”
They never thought Drake would be able to walk, talk, jump or ride a bike like the other kids his age. The Haynes say Drake’s personality transformed, and his progress gives them hope he’ll continue to get better and have a bright future.
The message the Haynes want to send other parents is to bank their babies cord blood. They say you never know when, or if, you’re going to need it. Hopefully you won’t, but just in case, they say it could be a success story like theirs.
Drake will continue with his intensive therapy. The Haynes and his therapist say they’re excited to continue seeing the improvements he’s making.