Kyle & Carla are currently living in Botswana. In December 2012 they got in touch with us to discuss the possibility of storing their unborn child’s umbilical cord blood and tissue stem cells. At the time they had no idea just how important that decision was going to be. A month later and they chose to store with us. Their little girl, Paige, was born at The Portland Hospital for Women & Children in London in March 2013. Carla then got back in touch in February 2014 to let us know the news that Paige had been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. She told us that it was mild and that they were working very hard with the Physio and Occupational Therapist. At the same time, both Kyle and Carla were doing their best to keep a very positive attitude. In the coming months, Kyle & Carla and the team at Smart Cells worked together to provide the hospital with all the information required for a potential transplant. In April 2014, we released and shipped their cord blood unit to Dukes University in North Carolina, USA for use in a transplant. Carla told us “We are just so grateful that we had the opportunity to save Paige’s cord blood stem cells and let’s hope they can make a difference.”
CARLA WAS KIND ENOUGH TO LET US KNOW WHY SHE STORED WITH SMART CELLS AND HOW THE SAMPLE HAS BEEN USED FOR HER DAUGHTER PAIGE.
Why did you decide to store your baby’s stem cells and why did you choose Smart Cells?
Kyle and I did some research into stem cell storage and Smart Cells most certainly came out tops. They were great from the moment we signed up to the day we, unfortunately (and fortunately that we had them) had to request our daughters stem cells to be sent to America for the re-infusion. It is not very common to store your child’s stem cells in South Africa and Botswana so it was very foreign to us until we did more research into it and it became more clear as to why one should store the stem cells and cord blood. The medical world is evolving so quickly, it is the best investment we could ever have made for our daughter, Paige.
What were the deciding factors that helped you to choose Smart Cells to store your baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells?
We were dealing with Mike and he made everything seem so easy and under control. From the moment we contacted him to sign up with Smart Cells until we had the stem cells collected from the hospital, he couldn’t have been more helpful.
What differentiates Smart Cells from other private umbilical cord blood stem cell storage companies?
Friendly, efficient and professional.
What was it like working with Smart Cells?
Unbelievable! They were very understanding as it can be a very stressful time as this was our first child.
What did you like most about us?
Very professional and we knew we were in good hands and that our child’s stems cells would be looked after.
Did everything work as you had expected it to?
Most definitely The stem cell collection kit was delivered way before time and collected as soon as the stem cells were retrieved.
What obstacle could have prevented you from using our service?
Obviously, the cost is a big deciding factor but when you look at the bigger picture, these stem cells could save your child’s life and you cannot put a price tag on something like that.
What would you say to a friend or a colleague who was thinking of using Smart Cells?
If they are in a position to do so, I would definitely recommend that they store it with Smart Cells. They are a reputable and professional company and they are always ready to answer any question – big or small.
Would you recommend this service to others, if so why?
Most definitely, it is possibly the best investment you could ever make for your child. You never know what is going to happen in 10-15 year’s time.
Is there anything else you wish to add?
Thank you for the wishes and as soon as we have reached Dukes and the infusion is done, we will certainly be in contact and let you know how it all went. Without your service, this would never have been possible so we cannot thank you enough.
You have made us feel confident that everything was taken care of and you made our lives so much easier where ever possible. Thank you again and we look forward to speaking again soon.
UPDATE FROM CARLA ON 23/05/2014
We arrived back from the States last Sunday (18/05/2014) and we are just trying to get back to normality as the jet lag was a problem for us. Poor little Paige can’t understand why she has so much energy at 02:00am and we want to sleep.
Dukes University was incredible. They made us feel so welcome and at ease. They helped out wherever possible. There was nothing to big or too small, they even went as far as offering to collect us from the airport when we arrived.
It was a lot more straightforward than we had anticipated. We had to be there at 11:00 so that they could start preparing the cord blood. Once the IV was in (which took a few attempts and I don’t think Paige is going to trust us for a while) but once it was on, the infusion took about 10 minutes followed by 2 hours of a saline drip. Paige slept for most of the time we were there. She was so brave, it was us who were the problem, stressing and worrying too much.
But all in all, we are so happy that we had the opportunity to do it, and now it’s all done. We just have to wait and see what the outcome will be.
In 3 months time Dukes University would like a report on Paige’s progress, and I will be keeping you informed as to how Paige is doing.
UPDATE FROM CARLA ON 15/07/2014
How was Paige before the treatment?
At 6 months, Paige could not sit and spent most of her time with her right little hand in a fist and her toes curled up. We knew then, something was not right. We then started intense Physiotherapy and occupational therapy in Johannesburg. We travel there every 2 weeks for a week of therapy.
How is Paige now?
She is a very determined little girl and surprises us everyday. We were told that if there are any changes made by the cord blood re infusion we would see it between 3-6 months after re infusion. It has been exactly 2 months since we visited Dukes University. Paige is crawling, which never thought she would be able to do and most recently climbing stairs, pulling herself up onto furniture and standing while hold my hand. It is difficult to say if this is due to the re infusion or purely from her natural development.
We just know, we have done everything in our power to help make Paige’s life that little bit more easier. As much as the trip over to America was stressful (more for us than Paige) we would do it over again in a heartbeat.
Smart Cells arranged the shipment, etc for us and all we had to do was get there. They were truly amazing and nothing was ever a problem. The support that we received in a situation like this made us realise that we made the best decision to store our daughters stem cells and cord blood with them.
UPDATE FROM CARLA ON 29/10/2015
How has everything been since we last spoke to you?
We are all doing very well thanks. Paige has started preschool and loving it. The teachers have been fantastic and so supportive. Paige’s Occupational therapist goes to school once a week so show the teachers what they can do to help Paige through play and help her with day to day activities.
How has her development affected her lifestyle and has Paige had any further treatment?
To be honest I thought Paige would battle a bit more at school but she has just sailed in and fitted in so well. Luckily kids at that age don’t see differences in other kids. She just seems to be improving all the time and is a real little chatter box.
We did the botox on her arm in August which has helped her so much and now we just constantly work the muscles to increase the strength.
We still do block physiotherapy every 2 months just to give us new ideas on how we can help her as Paige is developing and growing.
UPDATE FROM CARLA ON 08/05/2017
What have all of the family been up to since we were previously in touch?
We have all been away in the Okovango Delta which was absolutely amazing. We have been very busy after a new arrival to the family. Ware still finding it so hard to believe that Tyler will be one in a few weeks. He has been an absolute pleasure and adored by his big sister Paige.
How is Paige getting on and has she had any additional treatment?
Paige is doing exceptionally well and she loves school and just lives to entertain. She still does a lot of physio and occupational therapy and we expect that to continue for some time. We are very lucky that the therapist goes to Paige’s school and they do exercises that will help her in daily activities at school.
She has just had her 3rd lot of botox in her hand and leg as we find this helps to relax her muscles and get maximum use out of her hand and leg. She is very active and nothing holds her back. She gets involved in all activities at school: Ballet, Monkeynastix, Playball and Yoga.
She amazes us every day and proves to be a very determined little girl.