Parents of autistic boy who can not talk hope to raise £26,500 to pay for ‘incredible’ stem cell treatment in Miami
- Danny Bullen, now ten, was diagnosed with autism in 2010 at just two years old
- The youngster needs help going to the toilet and attends a specialist school
- His parents Lee Bullen and Irma Guanche came across stem cell therapy online
The parents of an autistic boy who cannot talk are desperately raising money for the ten-year-old to have ‘incredible’ stem cell treatment in Miami.
Danny Bullen, who lives in Tenerife, was diagnosed with autism in 2010 at just two years old after his development and communication stopped almost overnight.
As well as being unable to speak, Danny cannot use the toilet without help and is forced to attend a specialist school in his hometown of Candelaria.
After desperately searching online for something that could help Danny, his parents Lee Bullen and Irma Guanche, both 45, came across a treatment in the US that says it causes ‘all autism symptoms to completely disappear’.
They are appealing to strangers to help them raise £26,500 ($34,600) to pay for the therapy, as well as to cover travel and accommodation costs.
Danny Bullen (pictured) has non-verbal autism, and relies on his parents and teachers to help him with everyday basic tasks, such as going to the toilet. His desperate parents Lee Bullen and Irma Guanche hope a stem cell treatment in Miami will help relieve their son’s symptoms
Danny is pictured in a private hospital last December. He was undergoing a CT scan to find out why he kept hitting his head and was anaesthetised to stop him moving in the machine
Danny’s parents hope to send him for his first session of therapy next March if they can raise the necessary £26,500. He will travel to Miami with his mother and sister Nadia (both pictured)
In a desperate attempt to help their son, Danny’s parents sent the youngster off for numerous tests to try and get to the bottom of his condition.
They even put him on a gluten and lactose-free diet in the hope that would improve his symptoms.
It was not until parent support groups and online forums pointed the couple towards the stem cell treatment that they had real reason to hope.
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Mr Bullen – a writer – said: ‘With the treatment we are looking at, doctors will introduce umbilical cord blood stem cells, as well as cells from the patient’s own bone marrow and adipose tissue.
‘There are several options, and it is safer to undergo stem cell therapy over two or three visits rather than at once but the results with autistic children have been incredible in recent years.
Danny’s parents are inspired by online forums and support groups claiming symptoms ‘disappear’ after stem cell treatment, but experts warn the studies are still in their early stages
Danny’s father (pictured) is a writer and even penned a book about his struggles to accept his son’s condition called ‘Beset’. He described the treatment’s results as ‘incredible’
‘All symptoms related to ASD have completely disappeared in many of the young patients.’
Mr Bullen – who wrote a book about coming to terms with Danny’s condition called ‘Beset’ – hopes to send his son to the Art and Science Surgicenter in Miami for his first treatment session in March.
This will cost around £8,820, with a second visit in August – where umbilical cord cells will be transplanted – costing £13,230.
Danny will travel to Miami with his mother – a Spanish teacher – and 12-year-old sister Nadia.
CAN STEM CELL THERAPY HELP AUTISTIC PATIENTS?
Generally speaking, autism affects patients in two main ways.
The first is decreased blood flow to the brain, which results in less oxygen to the vital organ and therefore inflammation.
This damages the ‘energy powerhouses’ of brain cells, causing the cells to die.
The second issue is the immune system of autistic patients does not respond like a healthy person’s.
To combat these problems, research is increasingly pointing to stem cell treatment as a way to ‘reset’ an autistic person’s metabolism and immune system, while restoring damaged cells or tissues.
An April 2017 study by Duke University showed promise for stem cell therapy as an autism treatment.
However, the scientists behind the research stress it is early days.
The study was made up of 25 autistic children – aged two-to-five – who had an IV infusion of their own umbilical cord blood, which their parents banked at birth.
The results – published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine – revealed more than two-thirds saw improvements in their speech, ability to socialise and eye contact.
But the study was only intended to prove safety and was not designed to show efficacy. It also had no placebo group.
Autism affects more one in 100 people in the UK, National Autistic Society data shows.
And in the US, around one in 59 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, according to the charity Autism Speaks.
The condition affects how people experience the world, as well as their abilities to communicate and build relationships.
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