UCSD Medical Center Offers Stem Cell Study - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

UCSD Medical Center Offers Stem Cell Study

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The UCSD Medical Center is the first hospital in California to offer a new stem cell study, hoping to rebuild unhealthy hearts. Some people pay $50,000 for similar treatment overseas, but someone you love could enroll in the program for free.

After two heart attacks, Michael Wirth would do anything for a healthy heart.

"Hopefully I'll leave my mark in history," he said.

Michael's mother and father both died from heart failure, so he decided to sign up for a clinical trial where doctors will inject millions of adult stem cells into his damaged heard. Doctor Anthony DeMaria uses a three-dimensional color-coded map of Michael's heart to make the stem cell injections.

"That's really the magic of stem cells - the potential to take cells and inject them into the heart and have them grow and replace damaged heart muscle," he said.

Sixty patients at five hospitals across the country will be a part of the study. At UCSD Medical Center, they're looking for new recruits.

"We are openly enrolling patients right now, patients who qualify for the study," Dr. DeMaria said.

If you're 80 years old or younger and have suffered from either heart failure or heart attacks, you could be eligible.

Twenty-five percent of the patients selected will receive placebo injections, but after only three months, Michael is not only confident he's getting stem cells, but that they're working.

"I have more energy. I just generally feel better," he said.

With a wife, two children and seven grandchildren, Michael says he's doing this for his future and others'.

"I'm just happy to be doing this, because hopefully it will bring about change in the medical profession," he said.

Even though excitement is in the air, medical breakthroughs take time, which is why for the next year doctors will be monitoring patients across the country, hoping for big results.

The UCSD Medical Center is hosting a Healthy Heart Expo Saturday, Jan. 17. The event is open and free to the public.

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