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Here is one high light of good news from last year and hopefully it will become a new start for medical science, creating fast, safe and effective surgery for those suffering many illnesses and deficiencies almost too complicated to cure at the moment, for example, corneal blindness or loss of areas of the brain. A friend that suffered a stroke some years ago is now hampered by lack of motion on one side of his body, I would love to think one day he may benefit from stem cell research. The family of another friend, have an adopted daughter, now 9 years old, whom has areas of her brain that are missing, which have much the same effect as paralysing, she cannot see much, cannot walk or talk, her hands and feet are always contorted, she is unable to feed herself, all food as to be liquidised and given by syringe ( one process that is exceptionally long and tiring, two sisters who are in their late 60's are constantly having to care for this child).
Now for my own personal interest, I am still trying to sort out new spectacles that can give back my vision as it was one year ago, it is unfortunately not a surgical problem now but an optical one, I had my surgery done at the Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh, by Dr Jas Singh, exceptional surgeon who must have incredibly steady hands. Two weeks ago, here in Brazil, my eyes were scanned with ultra-sound to see if there was any existing problem that might impair the vision, I found that the pressures in both eyes are perfect and that the retina, which had become detached, was well secured and working well, the operation has been a great success and it is with pride that I see this same hospital is now trying to develop surgery which will restore sight to those that have lost it or never had the sight. I have asked my friend if he knows whether this surgery may well be used on stroke victims and he thinks that it may well transfer if the initial eye treatments are a success.
In Scotland, British scientists have developed a revolutionary new stem cell surgery that may restore vision to millions of people with corneal blindness. The researchers are testing the novel treatment on human guinea pigs in the world's first trials, and hope that their advances will lead to cures for other types of blindness.
The eagerly anticipated trials are set to start in Scotland this month, using 20 patients. During the surgery, diseased cells in the patients' corneas - called limbal cells - will be replaced with healthy ones, taken from dead donors or grown in a lab. The researchers hope that the healthy cells will encourage further growth, and help repair the cornea's surface. The only treatments currently available for corneal blindness – characterised by a loss of cells on the cornea, the outer surface of the eye – are a transplant or a tissue graft, both of which carry risks of infection.
Surgeons also often face a shortage of corneas for transplant. "It is exciting to be involved in such ground-breaking work. Piloting the use of limbal stem cell transplantation is a great landmark in the treatment of patients suffering from corneal blindness," said Professor Bal Dhillon, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh, who leads the study.
Winfried Amoaku, chairman of the scientific committee of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said: "There are some types of corneal blindness that are not treatable by any other means so if they can be treated in this way it is a very significant breakthrough, very exciting." He even believes that the developments could later be extended to include those who had never been able to see, if their blindness was due to damage to the cornea. "There are some people who are born blind due to problems with the cornea and those people may be cured by this treatment," he said.
Jon Moulton, a trustee for the UK Stem Cell Foundation, which is jointly funding the study along with Scottish Enterprise, said: "Vision loss is a serious condition that dramatically affects the lives of millions of people around the world. The loss of independence resulting from blindness and visual impairment can have devastating consequences for individuals and their families. Innovative pilot studies like this offer real hope."
Sonal Rughani, senior adviser and optometrist at the Royal National Institute for the Blind, said that the charity "very much welcomes this new clinical trial". She said: "We look forward to further positive developments that could bring hope to many people who have lost their sight as the result of corneal blindness."
This is the current work of my friend and shows how stroke victims are not victims of expression, I am so delighted to see how he has overcome the disadvantages of painting with one hand, I am useless at painting with water colour, never having the picture firmly in my minds eye to transpose onto the paper, here you can see that he keeps the image firmly in his mind and colours it with such wonderful sensitivity. Every year he paints a Christmas card design so that it can be reproduced to aid a charity.