He has sensation in his right hand; it is now just a matter of building up muscle.
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Cresskill, NJ (Vocus) December 9, 2008
While pregnant, Danielle and John Centrello decided to bank their baby's cord blood with M.A.Z.E. Cord Blood Laboratories in Purchase, NY. Not only was M.A.Z.E. close to home, but it offered top quality processing and storage at an affordable price for the Centrellos. They saved their infant's cord blood, hoping never to use it, but wanted to have it just in case.
On November 24, 2007, after a very typical pregnancy and delivery, baby John was born to Danielle and John Centrello at Englewood Hospital in Englewood, NJ.
Things were not quite usual with baby John, beginning with his first day home from the hospital. He would scream and cry and then fall asleep. He slept through the night and would not wake up to eat. At 10 days old, he was hospitalized for 4 days because he wasn't eating. When John was 3 ½ months old, Danielle noticed that he was left handed. As he got older, she noticed additional signs that she found concerning. In his ExerSaucer, John tilted to the left. He kept his right hand tightly clenched most of the time. His right eye frequently twitched.
By the time John was 6 months old, Danielle was very concerned. When she mentioned her concerns to her pediatrician, he sent her to a neurologist. It turned out that John had had a stroke in-utero and there was some left-brain damage which was causing weakness to his right side. Through an MRI, it was discovered that John's stroke had been massive and a large portion of the left side of his brain was damaged, including his language area.
The first thing Danielle did was get on the Internet and start doing all of the research she could. She was looking for information on pediatric stroke, since she had never heard of it. She eventually discovered a neurologist on the other side of the country who specialized in treating victims of pediatric stroke.
When she contacted the pediatric stroke specialist, knowing she had saved baby John's cord blood, she specifically asked about using the cord blood as a treatment. The doctor told her that she had patients who appeared to have improvement from a cord blood transfusion. She suggested Danielle contact Duke University, where doctors are performing cord blood transplants in an effort to treat cerebral palsy, which is often caused by infant stroke.
Baby John was accepted to the study and the Centrellos traveled to North Carolina on Sunday, September 28th. Baby John had a physical exam and tests done that Monday and the transplant was done that Tuesday. The transplant itself took only about 15 minutes. The cord blood had been shipped earlier and the doctors at Duke only needed to use half of John's stored blood. According to Danielle, "There was more than enough cord blood and the doctors at Duke felt we only needed one bag. We have saved the other bag in case we need to use it for something else." The cord blood was transfused through an I.V. into John's arm.
After the transplant, the Centrellos returned home. Less than a week after the transplant, John began pivoting in a circle. Within weeks, they began to notice additional changes in his behavior. His right hand, which was constantly clenched before the procedure, is now usually kept open. The only time it is clenched is when he is deeply concentrating on something. Since returning from North Carolina, baby John has used both hands together and he actually examines his right hand. He has also begun putting his right hand into his mouth. According to Danielle, "He has sensation in his right hand; it is now just a matter of building up muscle."
He has also begun bearing weight on his right side. Since the procedure, he leans onto his right arm. In addition, baby John used to have a crooked smile, where the right side of his mouth drooped. It doesn't droop anymore. He is able to point to things with his right hand; the improvement has been extremely noticeable. John also rolls over in either direction and can go from a prone position directly to a sitting position. One of his therapists believes that he will walk before he crawls.
The Centrellos are not the only ones who have noticed a change. Baby John's therapists have also noticed improvement. While John has extensive therapy ahead of him, the Centrellos are optimistic about the future.
Expectant parents can learn more about cord blood banking by contacting M.A.Z.E. Cord Blood Laboratories at (914) 683-0000 or visit the company on the Web at http://www.mazecordblood.com.
Anne Young Albanese
anne @ mazelabs.com
Editor's Note: The Centrello's are available for additional information or interviews.