A Mother Of Two Dies While Undergoing Stem Cell Treatment

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By Afza Fathima | July 30, 2014 6:45 PM EST

Kellie van Meurs, a mother-of-two from Brisbane, died while undergoing stem cell treatment in Russia. Her supporters have said that the stem cell treatment did not cause her death and this has not discouraged those already seeking the treatment.

Reuters
OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN: Australian singer Olivia Newton-John, 64, was diagnosed in 1992 and underwent a partial mastectomy and chemotherapy. Her 2005 album, "Stronger than Before" promoted breast cancer awareness. She also introduced the "Olivia Breast Self-Exam Kit" and helped build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre in her native Melbourne, Australia.

Kellie suffered from stiff person syndrome, a rare neurological disorder which results in rigidity of the body and increasing amount of chronic pain. In late June, she went to Moscow to secede an autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant. She was put under the care of Dr Denis Fedorenko who was a part of the National Pirogov Medical Surgical Centre.

The transplant is mostly used on patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. It involved the process of rebooting the immune system of the patient with the help of their own stem cells after a session of high-dose chemotherapy. Kellie's husband, Mark, had said that her death on July 19 was due to a heart attack.

Rosemary, Kellie's aunt and caretaker in Moscow, had told Mark that she received the best care from Fedorenko. Mark added that due to her constant pain and auto-neural problems, there was no better option but to undergo the haematopoietic stem cell transplant. 

Inspired by the success of the recovery of Kristy Cruise, a Gold Coast woman who suffered from multiple sclerosis and had also undergone the HSCT procedure, Kellie decided to make her journey to Russie. Kristy and Kellie had become close friends after Kristy's successful story was shown in the March episode of 60 Minutes.

Kellie was also diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and her condition was worsening. She wanted to have her HSCT in Brisbane, but the hospital ethics board were very slow in giving their approval, and so she went to Moscow, explained her friend, Kristy.

Just two days prior to her death, Kristy had written on her Facebook wall about the progress in her health because of the care given by the hospital and her treatment.

Megan Munsie, head of education, ethics, law and community awareness from Stem Cells Australia, said that the combination of private clinics and a growing consumer base is a dangerous one, and that if people have high hopes, they should balance it by acknowledging the risks that come with the procedure.

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(Photo: Reuters / Sulastri Osman)
OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN: Australian singer Olivia Newton-John, 64, was diagnosed in 1992 and underwent a partial mastectomy and chemotherapy. Her 2005 album, "Stronger than Before" promoted breast cancer awareness. She also introduced the "Olivia Breast Self-Exam Kit" and helped build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre in her native Melbourne, Australia.
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