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Joseph O. visited the Lung Institute in Tampa, Fla., to receive adult stem cell therapy for pulmonary fibrosis in March of 2015, and his results surprised his pulmonologist. When pulmonary fibrosis made Joseph’s life a daily struggle, he knew he had to find another treatment option. On oxygen 24/7, walking up a flight of stairs was a challenge, having a conversation while standing was out of the question and even brushing his teeth required sitting down. Stem cell therapy from the Lung Institute helped Joseph restore his quality of life.

“My oxygen level is steady at 98-99, where it was in the 80s before,” he said. “I haven’t seen oxygen in over six months. Haven’t touched it. I was on oxygen 24 hours a day, and now, zero.”

At the time of Joseph’s follow up call with the Lung Institute, he had had a CT scan three weeks prior, revealing that the inflammation in his lungs was gone. “My pulmonologist is blown away,” he said.

Joseph’s doctor’s astonishment at the treatment’s success is not unusual. His doctor had told him that his disease was terminal, and there was not much hope. Many doctors are skeptical of the clinical application of stem cells for lung disease, simply because advancements in the field have been so recent. However, skeptics need only witness the success of treatments, such as Joseph’s, to have their position turned upside down.

With next month’s FDA hearing regarding stem cell regulation on the horizon, there has been some debate over the clinical application of stem cell therapy. While some researchers are pushing for more research over clinical practice, many patients are sharing stories about how stem cells have essentially saved their lives, and are now working in conjunction with many senators, hoping to pass legislation that makes stem cell therapy more affordable and accessible to the general public.

The House of Representatives has already passed its version of the legislation, and the Senate is hoping to pass 19 bills before President Barack Obama leaves office. House Speaker Paul Ryan has agreed to hold a conference on the subject this fall in hopes to push the legislation forward.

In a recent interview with Fox News, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander said, “So you would think, that if president Obama, the Republican House and a bipartisan Senate all are for this, we can get it done. That’s why I’m optimistic.”

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