Stem cell therapy at Vinmec Hospital: New hope for children

with cerebral palsy

Nguyễn Phước Thanh Tuyền is an 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy in HCM City. Tuyen is the 4th generation great granddaughter of King Thanh Thai (1879-1954), 10th emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. After being treated by stem cell transplant therapy at the Vinmec Times City International Hospital, she has now embarked on a new chapter in her life.

Thanh Tuyền laughing with her parent and doctors at Vinmec Times City International Hospital

“Stem cell" miracle

For Tuyền and her family, the Tết 2017 (Lunar New Year) festival has been the best holiday ever. For the first time in her life, Tuyền was able to walk some steps and perform simple activities such as chatting with other people, brushing her teeth, putting her clothes on or eating on her own.

Nguyễn Phước Bảo Tài, Tuyền’s father, could not hide his tears of joy on seeing his daughter talking and laughing with her mother, despite only recently undergoing her third stem cell transplant for cerebral palsy treatment.

Tuyền was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was two years old due to premature birth, coupled with high fever and respiratory failure. A year ago, she was unable to talk, walk or even sit without support. For all her daily activities, she needed the help of her parents.

With the support of VinGroup’s Thiện Tâm Charity Fund and several donors, Tuyền was admitted to Vinmec Times City International Hospital where she underwent her first stem cell therapy treatment in July 2016.

Tuyền's health condition significantly improved after just two months of stem cell therapy.

“Now when I return home from work, I see she has already taken her bath. She even helps us to wash dishes after dinner,” Nguyễn Thị Bích Thủy, her mother, said.

“This actually is a miracle,” Thủy added.

Thanh Tuyền plays a game assembling toys at Vinmec Times City International Hospital

"Tuyền has shown significant progress in motor, language and awareness skills," Vũ Duy Chinh, the hospital's Hi-technology Centre on Cerebral Palsy and Autism Treatment deputy director, said.

“She is now able to walk 10-15 steps in one go, which is something she could never dream of doing a few months ago. She is also able to hold a cup, drink and eat by herself,” Chinh said.

Further, she is now identifying colours and talking some simple words clearly, instead of only communicating through gestures or signs, Chinh added.

Thanh Tuyền can play some toy assembling games.

After returning home from the second transplant last October, Tuyền was sent to Hướng Dương School, an educational facility for deaf people in Tân Bình District, HCM City. She is currently attending the school’s grade two.

I never dreamt that one day I would see my daughter taking her first steps at the age of 10. She can now sing some songs she has heard on TV and go to school,” Thủy said.

“New hope” for children with cerebral palsy

Tuyền's parents moved to HCM City from Cần Thơ, hoping for a miracle that would cure their daughter. With little money, the family’s income rested on the shoulders of her mother who worked part-time as a cleaner. All the family's savings were spent on her treatment.

However, at first, there was no positive change in Tuyền’s condition. Her "rebirth" only took place after being treated at the Vinmec Times City International Hospital with support of VinGroup’s Thiện Tâm Charity Fund.

Thanh Tuyền shakes Prof. Nguyễn Thanh Liêm’s hand at Vinmec Times City International Hospital.

 “Many patients with brain injuries, especially children with cerebral palsy, have not found an effective treatment method. In recent years, stem cell transplant therapy has been applied successfully for treating many diseases, such as autism and brain injuries, giving new hope to patients with cerebral palsy in Việt Nam,” Vinmec’s Stem Cell and Gene Technology Institute director Prof. Nguyễn Thanh Liêm said.

According to Liêm, transplanted stem cells are used in the patient’s brain and aid in the recovery of injured cells in patients with brain injuries.

According to several health studies, cerebral palsy rate among children in Việt Nam is at 0.06 to 0.19 per cent of the population. There is no currently no complete cure for the disease. Cerebral palsy causes paralysis, especially in children, resulting in a heavy burden on families and society. This therapy has given new hope to many children with cerebral palsy in Viet Nam and elsewhere in the world.

“Stem cell therapy has been performed following international standards. In the future, the method will be used for treatment of other diseases, such as autism, brain failure, heart stroke, diabetes and Parkinson,” Liêm said.

Stem cell transplant therapy has been applied under the framework of a State scientific research, titled “Study on the application of stem cell for treating patients with cerebral palsy,” led by Prof. Nguyễn Thanh Liêm at the Vinmec Times City International Hospital and has shown safe and effective results. The hospital has sought the health ministry’s permission for expanding the method to treat other patients in the community. VinGroup’s Thiện Tâm Charity Fund will support between 30 and 100 per cent of treatment expenses for patients depending on the circumstances of each family.