Revolutionary stem cell op to treat heart failure

Graham Parker, 41, from County Durham is one of first to benefit from trial Some participants were given stem cells and the rest placebo Stem cells were taken from bone marrow in his hip and injected into heart Years later Graham feels better - but still classed as having heart failure

By Carol Davis

PUBLISHED: 18:04 EST, 31 March 2014 | UPDATED: 18:25 EST, 31 March 2014

Graham Parker took part in a trial using stem cells to repair heart damage

A major new trial is using patients' own stem cells to treat heart failure. One of the first to benefit is Graham Parker, 41, an archaeology student from Stanley, County Durham. He tells CAROL DAVIS his story.

Working as a supply teacher a few years ago, I started feeling exhausted. I couldn't walk more than 50 metres without pausing, was constantly breathless and would wake at night coughing.

At first I thought it was a cold or flu, or the stress of a house move. But my mum, a retired nurse, pointed out I'd been ill for two months, and sent me to the doctor.

The GP suspected asthma, and gave me an inhaler. But within a week it was worse and I couldn't walk more than a few yards without retching.

So I saw a second GP. She didn't say what she thought it was - she called an ambulance instead. I was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, then transferred to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle while they ran several tests, including an ECG (electrocardiogram) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan.

Doctors explained I had heart failure: part of my heart muscle was damaged and the lower pumping chamber had become flabby so couldn't pump blood round my body properly. This was why I was so exhausted.

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Revolutionary stem cell op to treat heart failure

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