Stem cell surgery for eyesight

Naturally, we hope no family will ever need to use their child's stem cells. But sometimes they do. That's why we make sure every collection in our care is treated with exceptional attention to detail. We want to give families the best possible chance of a healthy future.
Kate Sneddon
Biovault CEO & Microbiologist

BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A woman from Brunswick is getting ready to take a trip to Florida — one she hopes will change her life.

Charlene Ouellet is legally blind and part of a clinical trial to receive a stem cell transplant that could end up having a major impact on her sight.

“I’m very comfortable, I’m very anxious, I’m very excited,” Ouellet explained in her Brunswick home, as she packed for her upcoming trip to Florida for eye surgery that she hopes, at the least, will stabilize her compromised eyesight. “If I can maintain that, it means by the time I am 70 I will still have some vision to be able to see my grandkids grow up to be young adults.”

Ouellet has Type 2 Usher Syndrome, a genetic condition involving sensorineural hearing loss, retinitis pigmentosa and often balance issues. Ouellet has no peripheral vision and describes it as looking through cylinders.

As her eyesight clouded and deteriorated, Ouellet plunged into depression. She turned to the Helen Keller National Center in New York. “They basically told me your mind is not disabled, just your eyes and your ears.”

We introduced viewers to Ouellet in July at her job in Wells at Village Candle where an adaptive computer allows her to accurately read the screen — critical for her work with numbers and coding the labels for the candles.

She was accepted into a clinical trial in which doctors will remove stem cells from her hips and transplant them into each of her eyes.

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