A five-year-old could soon be able to hug his mother for the first time when he becomes one of the first children in the world to undergo a pioneering stem cell treatment.
Jay Shetty has been severely disabled since birth and suffers from cerebral palsy, meaning he has never been able to walk, talk or play with his little brother Kairav.
But he is set to undergo a stem cell transplant using healthy cells from his little brother which doctors hope will repair his damaged brain tissue.
Jay, from London, is set to be given an intravenous stem cell treatment from Kairav’s umbilical cord blood – if he is found to be a match.
His family will fly to North Carolina, where he will become one of the first in the world to undergo the procedure at Dukes University, using blood stem cells from a sibling’s umbilical cord.
Mother Shilpa Shetty, 39, said: ‘We’re delighted that Jay has been accepted for this study.
‘It could lessen his symptoms of cerebral palsy to the extent that he may even be able to walk and talk which would just be wonderful.’
Jay has cerebral palsy, an umbrella term for a range of different conditions where the brain doesn’t work properly.
This causes problems with movement, posture and co-ordination.
He has also been blind for the past three years which was caused by the poor blood flow between his optic nerve and brain.
While Jay currently has 40 weeks of physical therapy treatment in the UK, the family also travel to Poland several times a year for more intensive physiotherapy in an effort to improve his condition.
In 2013, doctors treated a child suffering with cerebral palsy with stem cells for the first time.
Just weeks after being given an intravenous stem cell treatment from umbilical cord blood, the symptoms of a boy who had been left in a vegetative state after a heart attack improved considerably.
Within months he could talk and move – something Jay’s parents dream of for him.
Doctors used stem cells from the unnamed boy’s umbilical cord harvested shortly after birth.
However, as this was not done in Jay’s case he is reliant on his one-year-old brother Kairav’s stem cells, which were taken and stored.
Mrs Shetty, and husband Raj, have been told that there is a high chance he will be a stem cell match for his big brother.
‘Like any mother, I will do everything possible to make life better for my son,’ she said.
‘I am determined to find the money to pay for the cost of these therapies.
‘How can I not when it potentially means a better life for him?’
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BSc (Hons) Microbiology
Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.