Dramatic cerebral palsy improvement seen after cord blood treatment

Donald Saiontz

By Donald Saiontz
Posted March 26, 2008


NBC’s Today Show recently reported on the story about a toddler with cerebral palsy, who experienced dramatic improvements in his disability following an experimental procedure involving a stem cell transplant. While still an unproven treatment, this provides hope that some children may be able to recover from cerebral palsy, or at least experience improvement of cerebral palsy symptoms.

Dallas Hextell, a 2-year-old from Sacramento, California, received an infusion of his own umbilical cord blood as part of a Duke University clinical trial. Within five days, he showed improvements in the limitations imposed by the condition, and his parents are hopeful that a cerebral palsy recovery, with no signs of the disability, may be possible for Dallas by the time he is 7-years-old.

>>VIDEO: Today Show story on cerebral palsy recovery

The child’s parents became very concerned about their child’s development shortly after birth, when he had difficulty feeding and constant crying. By five months of age, Dallas was still unable to balance and his head was often tilted to the side. At eight moths, a specialist diagnosed cerebral palsy, a form of brain damage that impairs the child’s ability to control and coordinate movements. At 18 months, Dallas could not crawl, sit up, clap or speak.

At the time of his birth in 2006, the Hextells chose to bank their baby’s umbilical cord blood. This is an expensive, but increasingly popular choice among parents today. A number of private stem cell banks will preserve cord blood collected at the time of birth and store it for future medical uses.

Doctors at Duke University are conducting clinical trials to investigate the effects of using cord blood to treat children with cerebral palsy or brain damage. Parents whose children have undergone the procedure have reported seeing considerable cerebral palsy improvements with speech and motor skills.

Last July, Dallas had his own cord blood infused in a procedure that lasted only an hour. Within five days, the child who had been unable to communicate was able to say “Mama”. His parents report drastic change in his ability to connect with others and control his body and he is now able to walk unasssisted.


Cerebral palsy, also known as CP, is a serious disorder caused by damage to areas of the brain that control motor skills. This damage can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth, or shortly after birth. There is currently no known cure for cerebral palsy and treatments to manage the debilitating condition make cerebral palsy the second most expensive developmental disability to manage over a lifetime.

In some cases, a mistake at the time of birth may cause cerebral palsy if the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen. If a doctor, hospital or medical provider fails to follow the proper standard of medical care, and the child suffers a birth injury, financial compensation may be available for the child and their family.

The cerebral palsy attorneys at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. investigate potential medical malpractice lawsuits on behalf of children with cerebral palsy and their families. If your child or family member has been diagnosed with CP and you suspect that a mistake at the time of birth may have contributed to the condition, request a free consultation and claim evaluation.

37 Comments • Add Your Comments

  • Tom says:

    Are hospitals like Kaiser exposing themselves when their policy is not to inform pregnant patients about cord blood?… or they refuse to collect cord blood for a patient especially in light of the Hextel story and the even more dramatic recovery of Chloe Levine?

    Posted on August 23, 2008 at 4:53 pm

  • Kristen says:

    I am so excited about this! My son was diagnosed with CP at birth. Unfortunately we were not informed on banking his cord blood. We recently had a daughter and did bank her blood in hopes that one day we might be able to use it for my son. If anyone has information on using a siblings cord blood for an infusion, PLEASE email me. My son needs your help.

    Posted on October 28, 2008 at 12:24 pm

  • sara says:

    Dear Kristen, I too have a daughter with CP and we did not keep her cord blood ,but we are thinking about having another child and banking the cord blood this time . We have the same question as you, could we use a different child’s cord blood to help our daughter. If you find the answer or if anyone else knows the answer please let me know my daughter needs your help too.

    Posted on November 16, 2008 at 2:01 pm

  • Sophie says:

    My daughter is 15 months old and was diagnosed with CP and learning difficulties due to meningitis and septeceima at birth. I also have the same question I am due with my second child in 2months.

    Posted on December 10, 2008 at 9:03 am

  • Susan says:

    I also have the same question. My sisters’s daughter 4-years old has cp. My sister and I just heard or this possibility and are searching the net for an answer.

    Posted on December 27, 2008 at 12:53 am

  • Cheryl says:

    Does anyone have any information about using sibling cord blood to treat Cerebral Palsy? We are in the same position as many of you.

    Posted on January 26, 2009 at 6:37 pm

  • Mohit says:

    I have a two year old with CP. We are exploring the option of saving cord blood from our second child. As far as I can tell, there is no center/care provider in the US that is using sibling’s cord blood. We may be able to go to Costa Rica, China etc. to have this done. As far I know the GVHD is very low with CD34+ cells unlike with bone marrow. Therefore we are very strongly pursuing this and hope that it will help our son. If anyone has any information regarding stem cell therapy in the US please let us know.

    Posted on February 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm

  • John says:

    I live in NZ, My 2YO son has CP, last week I saw a Programme on a NZ child who traveled to Mexico to have the transfusion of stem cells (they were not his own nor a siblings), his results were not as dramatic, but promising never the less. The centre was located 15mins from the boarder in Tijuana. They obtained the cells from plencenta’s. I have also contacted http://www.istemcelli.com who are very similar. I am currently seriously looking into travelling to Mexico to try the treatment. If anyone has any information or questions/advise for me I can be contacted on johnnyjohnfish@gmail.com.

    Posted on February 10, 2009 at 1:44 am

  • Dionne says:

    I am in the same boat as many of you other parents. I have a 5 year old daughter with CP. We did not save her cord blood as she was born very early and unexpected. We did save the cord blood of her baby sister in hopes of helping our child. PLEASE, if anyone out there can help us, as well as the other parents, please share. At this time, we have not found anyone in the US who will do a sibling transfusion.

    Posted on February 22, 2009 at 7:47 am

  • Fabiola says:

    Hi I have a 16 month old who was diagnosed with cp and life has been so hard. I have tryed looking everywhere to find a solution. I know that china, mexico and englad do stem cell therapies but not frm siblings. I thought about have another child so that I can bank the cord blood but not only am I terrified of getting pregnant but it will be my fourth child. Please contact me if anyone finds out any information. I contacted the duke university to speak with the doctor there doing stem cell treatments but they told me that at this time they are only doing it on their own cord blood not siblings.

    Posted on March 7, 2009 at 1:12 pm

  • rivsnoop says:

    my son is 15 months and has hemiplegic cp. fortunately, we did save his cord blood and are in the process of getting him signed up for the study at Duke University. At this time, you can only use same cord blood, however, in the very near future, they would accept relative cord blood, and even donor stem cell, as they are already doing this in China and France. Unfortunately, due to restricting federal funding on any stem cell research, the Bush Administration put the US back about 8 years. Now that the current admin lifted these restrictions, we should be progressing forward and it also paved the way for other countries to share their research. There’s no doubt in my mind, if you see what they are doing in other countries already, that there will be a cure for CP within the next 5 to 10 years. I will keep you updated of my son’s progress at Duke. They are currently doing a test on the cord blood .

    Posted on March 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm

  • Emilia says:

    Hej rivsnoop..
    I live in Denmark and my daughter at 18 months has hemiplegic cp. I did not save her cordblood, so I also desperatly seek possibility of using siblingscordblood. Do you know where I can find information about donor stemcelle therapy in France and at Dukes uni? Ialso belive in my heart that stemcells are the way do go, in order to cure our children 🙂
    The best to all of you in his blog 🙂

    Posted on April 18, 2009 at 1:49 am

  • Michele says:

    I have a 15 year old daughter with cp and they didn’t have this when she was born, I would definitely consider having another child to keep the cord blood if it would help her. If anyone hears anymore on this I would love to know.

    Posted on May 8, 2009 at 12:34 pm

  • Brandi says:

    I have 2 boys, aged 5 and 3. When my oldest son was 2, he suffered a massive stroke which resulted in severe brain damage, cp, aphasia, apraxia, hydrocephalus….. We did not bank either of our boys cord blood. We were denied into the study at Duke, but they said within the next 2 years they will be doing donor and related cord blood transplants. I will have a third baby in a second if it would help my beautiful boy. Hopefullly, we will get into the next study at Duke. Good luck to all of you CP moms. God Bless.

    Posted on May 22, 2009 at 1:59 pm

  • Brandi says:

    In order to use a sibling or donated cord blood, your child must go through an intensive 8 day chemotherapy treatment. Your child will lose thier antibodies and thier hair. They must kill all the existing stem cells in thier bodies before the donor cord blood is introduced.

    This broke my heart when the Director at Duke told me this. I really thought this was “it”. I thought this would help my son. I don’t know if I could put him through all that pain. He would be hospitalized for a month, have to take anti rejection meds for a year and be susesptable to illnesses for a while. It’s a catch 22.

    What does anyone else think about this?

    Posted on May 27, 2009 at 1:28 pm

  • jenny says:

    so glad to know that i am not crazy my 19 month old has cp and we are also considering another baby for cord blood treatment

    Posted on June 22, 2009 at 8:31 pm

  • Martha says:

    My son has CP and soon will have another baby. Where is a good place to bank my newborn’s blood cord? Where is good place to infuse my new born’s stem cells into my boy with CP?

    Posted on August 23, 2009 at 1:00 am

  • Paola says:

    Hi Brandi, sorry but I don’t understand:
    AT Duke university they will made transplants of stem cells of another your baby? I have a cp baby and I have stem cells of his sister..do you think that I can go to the Duke University for the tretment? If not, do you think that in the future will be possible to use sister’s or other donor’s stem cells?

    Posted on September 21, 2009 at 5:55 pm

  • Juanel says:

    Hi everyone

    I have triplets and one has cp. We are flying to China for stem cell therapy in Dec. the 17th. We did not bank their cord blood as it was too expensive. We still regret it, but we have done extensive research on therapy in China and it is really promising. They use donor stem cells and like Rivsnoop said, US is 8 years behind on this.
    China has come up with a way to keep your body from rejecting donor stem cells and after 4800 transfusions they have the evidence to back this up. The treatment there is also not just transfusions but includes intersive physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy. it is a 4 week stay.
    Brandi, i would opt for this istead of putting my child through chemotherapy.

    Posted on October 13, 2009 at 9:32 am

  • angelia says:


    I am a bit surprise that the child need to go for chemotherapy. I have a daughter with cp I would go for the treatment unless the doctor can promiss me is a 100% well for my child after going thru all the pain and chemotherapy. Otherwise will consider other chioce.

    Posted on October 25, 2009 at 10:14 pm

  • Angel says:

    Thx for all the info. I have a 4 yr. old son with left hemepheric CP. We did not save his cord blood at birth time. Had another child recently, but did not save hers either since we did not know about it. However we have our relatives who r ready to donate. How do we contact Duke Unviversity. Juanel, could you give me the details of the hospital in China where u intend to get the treatment for your child.
    Thx again all for your very informative responses and good luck and well wishes.

    Posted on November 12, 2009 at 10:55 am

  • sadaf says:

    hi JUANEL
    my name is sadaf and i have a son 15 months old and has cp
    can u plz let me know how to contact this place in china i will really appreaciate that

    Posted on January 22, 2010 at 9:01 pm

  • Bimali says:

    Hi there
    This is the first time I have read the postings on this site. It is very informative. I also have a son 6 years with CP spastic quadraplegic. I am pregnant again and we also want to bank the cord blood iin the hope it will help our son recover from CP. Can you tell me which type of stem cells were banked and used for your child’s own infusion and has anyone done this to a sibling. I also did not know of chemo treatment if the stem cells match. I live in Sri Lanka and there are no cord blood banks here. We have contacted Cord Life Singapore and Cord Life India. Both these harvest different stem cell lines. Please help us if anyone knows which stem cell types are needed for CP. We have to sign agreement soon as the baby may be born soon. Juanel can you also send the China address where you went for treatment. What was your child’s reponse after treatment.
    Thank you

    Posted on January 23, 2010 at 5:47 am

  • Julie says:

    Hi – I am in same position as many of you. I have a 12 year old with CP – didn’t save hers, but have her little sister’s. We have seen such a decline in her physical abilities as she has gotten older. She is extremely bright but this is really just a double edged sword. Would love to try stem cell, but want more data and proof…

    Posted on February 7, 2010 at 3:09 pm

  • Courtney says:

    I am also in the same position as many of you. I have a 5 year old with CP and did not save his cord blood. We have a daughter now and did save hers in hopes of helping her brother. I would also like more information in China.

    Posted on March 1, 2010 at 1:52 pm

  • carol says:

    Hello all! firstly let take a moment to tell all of you parents what wonderful concern you show for your special children. my daughter and her husband were just informed last week that their 8 month old has cp. i did notice her not holding her head up or rolling over and was concerned but did not expect the diagnois. they to, did not bank the cord blood, however, has anyone ever heard that if there was an issue at birth which led to the diagnosis, if by chance the hospital staff would have the sense to save this cord? ortherwise we are in the same situation as you all and i truly hope we can use a sibling donor in the very near future. god bless all of you and please feel free to contact me anytime.

    Posted on March 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm

  • Molly says:

    We have a 3 1/2 year old daughter with CP like condition along with a debilitating movement disorder. Our 2nd child is due in Feb. and I have also been trying to gather information on using a siblings cord blood. We have brought my daughter on 2 seperate occasion to SRI and had donor treatments of umbilical cord stem cells. I do not understand the reason for Chemotherapy if many of these children have had infusions of donated stem cells and had no adverse reactions?!? If it was a matching blood type and you are using these donated stem cells for regernation of nerve, muscle and brain cells why would you break down the body in such significance if they do not have a disease of the bone marrow?!? Please elaborate if anyone has any information! Thank You

    Posted on October 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm

  • angela says:

    I have a son with mild cp. He is three years old and just started to wear his braces on his legs. We are also thinking of having another child just to help him. It would be our forth. It is so frustrating to be in this situation and find information. In this day in age you would expect our country would be a little more up to date and provide help for our families. I feel helpless.

    Posted on December 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm

  • Tasha says:

    I have a son that will be 3 in June and he has cerebral palsy. I would like to know any treatment ideas or anything that could help my son. He is getting physical, occupational, and speech therapy. They are also talking about him starting school after he turns three. Any information is greatly appreciated.

    Posted on January 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm

  • Salima says:

    Hello, we are in the same situation as most of you parents. We have a little 18 month old angel who was diagnosed with CP at birth. I’m currently due with our second child in 2 months. We have been looking in to CBR to save the babies cord blood in hopes of helping our first child. I read that quiet a few of you are inquiring about China. Can you please email me the name of the place since they actually do use the siblings cord blood for the transplant. Also, has anyone had any luck with it? Would love to get an update from the parents that have tried it.

    Posted on April 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm

  • Jo-Anne says:

    Bon dia from Aruba my daughter suffered an accident when she was 9 months old and is diagnosed with CP. She will be 3 in October and I am expecting our fourth child in December. Please send me any information you may have about using the baby’s cord blood to help my daughter. Please if someone can send me the info about China or any other place that was successful at this procedure. Thank you.

    Posted on May 28, 2011 at 7:49 am

  • Yadira says:

    Im so glad we’re not the only ones. Me and my husband have a 3yr son with CP and are planning on having a 2nd child and saving the cord blood to use in a sibling-donor transplant. We have been searching for any new news on where we can have the procedure done. If anyone has info on procedures done in china or mexico (like mentioned previously) or any other place allowing the procedure Please let me know.

    Posted on June 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm

  • Jo-Anne says:

    @ Juanel – I am extremely interested in how the 4 week program worked out for your family in China. We are doing intensive therapy sessions in Colombia and will try anything that can help our daughter. Can you please email me with details? Thanks and hope all went well.

    Posted on October 28, 2011 at 8:28 am

  • jane says:

    i also ave a daughter of 8yrs who suffered HIE at birth,and suffers with spastic qaudriplegic c-p.so am considering having another child and to store its ambilical cord. im just worried about getting that obsessed with finding a treatment then to perhapes pay for a treatment abroard, and not get what they say your getting. like i heard someone went to germany had stemcells harvested from their bone marrow but wot they injected back into her body turned out to be cow’s stem cells now she’s at risk of maybe contracting m.r.s.a. so i’m very wary.

    Posted on May 12, 2012 at 8:16 am

  • Jerice says:

    Juanel I also have a child with cp. I want to know how the treatment went for your child. Thank you and praying that your family is doing well.

    Posted on August 16, 2014 at 10:40 am

  • Francineestel says:

    @Jerice: I noticed your comment was most recent. Did you find out any info from Juanel on stem cell therapy in China? I too have a child in need of stem cell therapy using sibling cord blood.

    Posted on September 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm

  • melis says:

    I would be very glad if you could share some more information regarding your child with CP cord blood therapy. any improvements since your last post on 2009?

    Posted on October 28, 2015 at 8:11 pm

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