From Andre Traversa
To all potential donors.
I am a 42-year-old male living in the Chicago area. I am totally blind and have been since birth, but I don't let this stop me from living a meaningful life.
I am currently self-employed in the Public Relations field, and pursued an extensive career in talk-radio for several years. In addition, I've gone into business as a distributor of nutritional supplements. However, I still depend on disability payments to supplement my income, so my resources are limited. My long-term goal is to get off government assistance entirely.
In November 2011, I developed an infection in my right testicle; the medical term is epidymitis. The first antibiotic, Cipro, was ineffective. After a period of five weeks, the pain and inflammation grew worse, so I went to a urologist, who put me on a second round of antibiotics, Netronidazol and Cephalexin, as well as the anti-inflammatory Celebrex. These finally worked, and the infection was gone. But I noticed some significant changes in my body. Most notably, I felt a significant reduction in my sex drive. I then noticed that my right testicle was beginning to shrink and atrophy.
Though I am currently single and not sexually active, I am still open to the possibility of marriage and even children. Surgical removal is a risk I don't want to take.
So I decided to do some research. For years, I've read about the wonder-working power of stem-cells, particularly adult stem cells. So I did a search on stem cells and put in the word "urology." That's when I discovered Lander Urology, a stem-cell treatment facility in Rancho Mirage, California. This facility, headed by urologist Dr. Elliot Lander, has successfully treated numerous urological conditions that have resisted conventional treatment models. The clinic utilizes stem cells from the patient's own body fat, known as autologous cells, which contain up to 10 times the amount of cells derived from bone marrow.
The procedure is an outpatient one, and involves two components. First, a liposuction method is used to extract the cells, which are then separated from the fat. Then the cells are injected into the patient. I had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Lander, who was very kind and gracious to me, and explained to me that the infection probably damaged the organ and caused the atrophy. At first I thought the damage had actually been a side effect of the medications I was taking. While he has never specifically used stem cell treatment for testicular atrophy, he has graciously agreed to help me, and at a substantial discount.
This of course, brings us to the question of funding. As far as that goes, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that since this is an experimental medical treatment, it is available only through clinical trials and not covered by insurance; it is strictly patient-funded.
The retail price for this procedure at Dr. Lander's clinic is normally $8900. But, since he has never tried this treatment for testicular atrophy, he is willing to do it for half the cost; $4500. When compared to what various clinics in other countries charge, outrageous prices such as $30,000 to $95,000, this represents an enormous savings for me. Because I am blind, I would prefer to travel with someone for this treatment. My good friend, Bruce Peters, has already agreed to be my traveling companion. So, in addition to the cost of the procedure, we will also incur travel costs; namely, airfare, a rent-a-car, hotel and meals.
The procedure only takes one day, so I don't plan to be gone for long, which will also cut down on costs. I have agreed to pay all of Bruce's travel expenses, so I need to raise enough money to cover the cost of all these necessities.
In addition to the $4500 for the procedure, I have estimated the remaining expenses to cost roughly $1500.
Let me add one more thing I forgot to mention. While the stem cells could be injected directly into my testicles, the most common approach is to use a simple Iv in the arm. The miracle is that these cells automatically go where they're supposed to; they are repair cells, so they go wherever there is damaged tissue. This could have a lot of added side benefits. For example, I have a severe hearing loss due to a disease which caused my blindness, Norrie's Syndrome. Since I am still able to use hearing aids and am not totally deaf, I still hold out hope that some of my hearing may be restored. It's possible that the stem cells can aid in this process.
In closing, let me address an obvious question, why should you help me?
Aside from appealing to your good will, let me explain what I would give back in return.
If this treatment is successful, I would happily become a public advocate for stem cell research, even helping to raise money for others who could benefit from similar treatment. This is the least I can do, and would do so gladly.
Secondly, I care enough about my health to not simply accept whatever prognosis conventional medicine has to offer. I care enough to do the research, and my research has led me to a doctor who may be the only urologist in the country using stem cells to treat patients.
In the meantime, please feel free to write or call. I am a very public person and have nothing to hide.
Any help, not just financial would be greatly appreciated.