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Each year, the lives of thousands of people across the country are saved because someone made the choice to become an organ donor. In April, Allegheny Health Network is honored to celebrate National Donate Life Month and pay tribute to all of those who have bestowed the precious gift of life to another through organ donation. Visit AHNdonate.org to learn more and register to be an organ donor.



Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014


KDKA-TV: New treatment studied for heart attack patients

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Just over a month ago, 53-year-old Kathleen Caliendo woke up with a sore shoulder and chest pressure.

She thought she had caught her husband's chest cold. When she started vomiting repeatedly, she pieced together her unusual symptoms of a heart attack.

She called her husband who told her to call 911. She was taken to Allegheny General Hospital where cardiologists happen to be taking part in a study looking at whether stem cell therapy for heart attack is safe and effective.

Using adult stem cells from donated bone marrow, the treatment given by vein is hoped to help healing, reduce scarring and decrease inflammation.

In addition to standard treatment, half the patients get stem cells, half get placebo. Neither the doctors nor the patients know who is getting what.

"One of the first questions I asked was if I get the placebo and this proves to be beneficial, can I get the real stuff, and they said no," Caliendo said. "They said it might be years before it's approved," Caliendo said.

For the next two years, she'll have to go in for checkups and tests every couple of months.

"I had to give blood, I had to give urine, I had to take a stress test and then they actually put on a heart monitor," she said.

Earlier trials looking at the safety of this kind of stem cell therapy showed lower rates of complications like irregular heart rhythms and improved outcomes like better pumping function.

Dr. Robert Biederman cautions the preliminary work is encouraging, but trials with many more people will need to be done before the therapy can go before the FDA.


To read more, visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette web site.

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